"A Farewell to Arms" Ernest Hemingway
"The Bell Jar" Silvia Plath
"Rabbit Run" John Updike
Anyone Interested in an Old Fashioned Pass the Pen Collab?
We've seen lots of structured, re-edited, re-written, corrected, guided plot/character collaborations in the past few years...but is anyone up for a genuine free-form collaborative write?
We did one in 2019 with the only rules being approx. 300 word segments, a tag to the next writer AND an obligation to read all that had come before. I could do as before when sent a finished link, gather them into one post and keep track of reservations for writing spots where you could dip in and out as much as you want, never twice in a row or cutting in line of others.
If you have an interest in being part of a collaborative writing event like this, please message me: @Finder
Here's what some great Prosers wrote together the spring of 2019:
Part 1 - The Sky is Green by Finder
The evening before was ordinary.
Mathew recalled looking up at the night sky, as he always did, finding the north star and wondering if someone was looking at him as he was looking at its faint gleam.
He slept well. Dreamless. Waking timelessly. Legs tangled in the covers. Stretching arms out large with a groan. Only then noticing the morning sky. He rubbed his eyes and pulled aside the drapes to believe.
The sky was green. Not a mossy normal morning sun shooting through a blue dawn sky green but green. Bright green filling up his space like an LED on a cosmic alarm clock.
Part 2 - Disconnected by TorNesorNerob
He thought about checking the news, but decided to go through his morning routine without it. It wasn’t the first time the sky was a weird color. There was that time after a sandstorm several hundred miles away that the sky had been blood red. While Mathew wasn’t sure why it would be green this time, he chalked it up to nature being nature, got in the shower, dressed, had his breakfast, and planned out his day.
He felt an overwhelming sense of lethargy come over him and considered cancelling his plans and sleeping in even though he was already practically out the door. The house phone rang as he reached for the doorknob and he had an excuse not to leave for the day.
“Mathew? Mathew! I’m so glad I caught you. Don’t go outside.” It was his mother.
“Yeah, Mum. What’s going on? Why not?”
“Have you seen the sky?”
“Yeah. Thought it was like that time it went red.”
“It’s not, Matty. Please -- ”
The line went dead. He called back, but the phone didn’t even have a dial tone. He turned on the television. His mother was always watching the news and she constantly panicked about what was going on in the world. Static. Odd.
He turned on the radio and got static, too. He took out his phone, no signal.
Part 3 - Nightmares by anarosewood
He placed the phone on a small table and looked out the window again. The sky was even greener than before, strange clouds coming from the East. Eyes narrowing, he tried to see more details; the edges of the clouds seeming to be shredded somehow, a strange light coming out of the center. He felt sudden nausea taking over him, the shade of his face probably resembling the color of the sky. What was going on around here?
He sat on the sofa for a moment, his lost stare glued to the dark screen of the TV. His mum’s words ringing in his ears. “It’s not, Matty. Please...” If he couldn’t get out of the house or call anyone for help, then what could he really do? He sensed the panic rising, heart rate going out of control. This was just like the dream that he had since he was a little boy. The emerald sky falling down on Earth. The meteor shower, all those pieces falling into the lake. The water rising and... Mathew quickly got up, almost knocking over a coffee table. He ran over to the door.
“This was insane. It must just be a nightmare. Yes, that’s exactly what it was”.
He mumbled to himself and grabbed the handle, then turned it around. The door squeaked slightly and a delicate breeze blew in. The air smelled off — his mind froze for a moment. It smelled sweet, a truly overwhelming scent. He could feel his eyelids get heavy but he still walked out of the house. He felt something pulling him in the direction of the lake.
Part 4 - Dreamscapes by Broken_Toe *
Dizziness set in as he felt his stomach lurch.
Matty grabbed the railing at the top porch step, but lost his footing. Sickening sweet as the smell of fresh vomit after a heavy infusion of rum and pineapple juice, a pasty toxin painted his throat and waxed his tongue as he stumbled to the earth and fell — yet continued to crawl to the lake.
The call was mesmerizing from deep within his soul. The need, the overwhelming quickening to become one: The calling— ? The intoxication— ? The Nightmare? But the mental blindness thickened.
Struggling down the grassy hillside Matty neared the destination. The aurora burned at his retinas and radiated his strong cheekbones and nose as his natural sensitivities were trying to warn the brain to stop, but the young man was deaf to normal impulses.
Part 5 - Raging Sky by MidnightInk *
As he stood on the edge of the lake, he gazed at the silently sleeping water carefully, and he felt his heart pounding rapidly. The sky seemed to change colors every minute, and it has turned bloody red already.
He remembered that he forgot locking the door behind him when he left. Then, a thought rang inside his head. If the world ended today, nothing matters. Nothing! Not even everything precious things hidden behind those tall brick walls. He only hoped that, that today wasn’t today. If it was so, he didn’t want to die hiding inside, but wanted being outside, so that he could look deep in the eyes of the bloody sky and whatever was coming, while he sat on the bank of the lake, soaking his feet in the cold water for the last time.
He wandered around, trying to make sense of everything that suddenly unfolded beneath his eyes. Still, nothing made sense to him. He had never experienced the unique euphoric smell before. He wanted to make sure the nightmare wasn’t real. So, he went to the lake and felt the water, found that everything was normal. Nothing was out of the ordinary.
The fresh breeze whisked over his face, and he never wanted to miss that feeling. Once more, he decided to roam, to making sure that his senses weren’t lying to him.
As he walked on the shore, thunder roared on the gleaming sky above. He hesitated to go further. What if that was the end? Would that mean he’d given no hugs or said goodbye to his mommy or anybody else he cared about?
He felt helpless and was in peril disarray, a man who had nowhere to run.
Part 6 - Time by Brandi333
Matthew began to cry at the thought of never being able to say goodbye or apologize for things he’s done. Not calling them enough or skipping out on lunch the other day. Not making it for Christmas Eve cookies and milk, a tradition since he was a child. Instead he went out drinking with his friends all night. Christmas Day he sat trying not to puke, realized she hadn’t said a word. Wasn’t signing the over played songs on the radio that time of year. She was silent, he knew that meant he hurt her badly.
His family ties were harder to keep strong since he moved away for college. He wished he had a sibling to take some light off of his screw ups. He loves his family so much, corny but love in abundance always fills their home.
He felt so alone and desperate as he stared into the lake, wait why am I here? How did I get to the lake? His mind confused, he wiped his eyes and checked the time. Last he checked his watch read 9:30 am, he could bet his life he’s been here for at least an hour but it’s only 9:34?
Determined to take back some control over this morning, he began to do things he knew would take a certain amount of time. To see if his watch was broken or could time be moving slower?
Part 7 - The Shadow by Yuki
Mathew treaded deeper, circling around the bank of the lake when he suddenly felt a tug. He whipped head to the side, and there he heard it again. It was the cry of a crow overshadowed with the crushing sound of an ocean. He turned and stepped into the lake.
The water was ice-cold. Sinking slowly into the water he closed his eyes, and the smell was unbearable. He closed his eyes tighter, clenching his hands. It was flooding his brain and melting on his tongue. It overflowed him. And there it was again, that tug pulling at him. Pulling and pulling at him-before -before he shot his eyes open again and the world shifted around him.
He wasn’t in the lake anymore. He was in a city. Thousand of fluorescent lights burned around him. And he noticed the sky was emerald green again, a hot rich green running through the centre but unlike before there were drops of blue spreading into the green.
He was sure now this had to be a dream. But at the back of his mind, he couldn’t shake off that odd feeling. He could still hear the raw and desperation in her voice as his mother’s words repeated in his mind. “It isn’t what you think—”
“It’s true, ” He jumped at the deep voice. There was a shadow perched on a rooftop. “It’s not a dream, it’s a nightmare, ”
He couldn’t see their face, but he could feel they were smirking. “Wh–”
Part 8 - The Voice by MidnightInk *
”Who is out there?!” Mathew said, not to sound terrified of the unknown voice lurking in the shadows, even though the reality was the opposite.
He was also relieved a bit for hearing another voice, because that was the first time he felt he wasn’t alone anymore. Since his last recurring dreams or nightmares, he hasn’t heard another soul’s voice. Now, he felt he wasn’t alone anymore. He comforted himself that someone or something else besides him knew about the mind-numbing situation. Maybe he’s found an ally or someone else who might give him some answers.
He wanted to hear something, anything so he cleared his throat and said, “How do you know that it’s a nightmare?” “Who are you?” “What’s your name?“ “My name is Mathew!”
A cold silence fell between him and the shadow like a night without the wind.
Then, Mathew saw something with two red eyes lurking in the darkness. But he couldn’t see what it was. So, he recoiled in fear, clinching his feast and making himself ready, if he had to fight for his life.
He didn’t trust whatever was sneaking in the shadows, for it could put his life in danger. He only hoped to find an ally at that moment. But he knew that he was either doomed or could join with another mind, in solving his situation. This thing could have some clue about what was going on.
The bright fluorescent lights dimmed. Then, the sky instantly enveloped with thick and dusty clouds, which moved abnormally. He felt like it was hanging above his head and ready to suffocate him.
He gasped for some air, and his mind eased for he tasted the fresh oxygen in his lungs.
Part 9 - The Star by Finder *
From the shadow’s point of view, the young man trembling before him was in desperate need of comforting. The revelations had come too fast. Perhaps not our time. The shadow tried to convey wordlessly. Our time so different from earth.
The shadow tried to make its red eyes glow kind. Feeling incomplete, formless, not having the human element of arms to hug him. So much love. “Matty...” the shadow tried to speak, but only a fierce groan emerged into the air further frightening the young man.
As night fell. The shadow remembered how it had merged its mind with Mathew every night before sleep for his nineteen years on earth. Bring it back. With that, the heavy fog and brilliant patterned colors above parted. The sky above them darkened and cleared.
The shadow enveloped Mathew a cocoon of sweet smelling air from which Mathew had always thrived.
Calmed in a familiar, Mathew instinctively searched the northern sky where a star faintly gleamed. At once he understood, “Mum?”
Part 10 - Mummy Dearest by Mnezz
After all this time, she finally got a chance to see her own son. Maybe it would be better if she took on a less haunting form.
Mathew stared in awe at the being morph into a different form. Her red~eyes seemed to have been in control of the sky. He was certainly dealing with a peculiar life form.
Memories came rushing back like a flood back to when he was just a little boy. He was terrified of sleeping with the lights off, but whenever he would get scared he would hear a sweet lullaby ringing in his mind. It was his her all along! She had kept watch over her baby from the other realm.
He felt more at peace now. Mathew stared into his Mum’s eyes. They always seemed to have zillions of stars shining in them like the night sky.
Mathew stood very still, not knowing what to do next. His Mum smiled and moved toward her son. Then wrapped her arms around him. Mathew took a deep breath and smiled, too. Never before had he felt so content.
Part 11 - Prescribed Lullaby by Mazzmyrrheyes
Her arms, like covers, enveloped him. Though, not a babe and with a larger frame, he still fit snugly within her wings. Softly, the hum began and moved into a chorus, when, among the colored clouds that night, the song pierced the dense forest.
“Matty, close your eyes
For the hour’s nigh
I shall serenade you
With my lumen lullaby”
The wind blew through the barren branches, bending them like bows. The colors of the night began to breath, as if to blow upon the waters, parting them to walk through on a ledge. They crossed it, slowly, as she sang. The place was still familiar. Mathew’s mind, at one with hers, was drifting with her lyre.
“Dream of colors
Rich and deep
A place where time
Close your eyes
And drift to sleep
The lumen glow”
The song seemed to move in perfect time with the flashing lights of the clock beside Mathew’s bed. The glow of the green numbers and red power button remained flashing after the power surge. The colors were muted, however, as they illuminated the amber plastic of the prescription bottle upon the nightstand.
Part 12 - No Refills by MidnightInk *
After a few minutes of serenity in blanket of his mother’s arms, Mathew suddenly frowned in bewilderment and fixated his eyes on the clock and the prescription bottle. He had never seen either of them before. He was especially troubled by the prescription drug prescribed for psychotic patients. Had he ever had any mental episodes before? His memory was rusty, for he did not remember a moment of illness in his life. Maybe here and there, he might have caught a cold or flu. But according to the drug description, he was diagnosed with a mental problem. It was quite shocking news to digest.
He rubbed off his eyes as he felt himself dive back into reality. Then, he picked up the prescription bottle and read the label.
It read, “Mathew Davidson. DOB February 25, 2000. Take One Tablet by Mouth Daily with food. Prescribed by Dr. Allison Hughes. No Refills. Side effects, hallucinations.”
After he read it thoroughly, even the fine print, everything seemed correct except the medication, the symptoms, the hospital, and the physician. He has never left his city, let alone being checked into a psychiatric hospital upstate, a place he had never heard of before.
As confusion rang in his head and anger boiled in his blood, the sky roared and tinted, and suddenly a thunderstorm sparked, flashing with flickering lights, and then rain poured down like the gates of heavenly flood doors burst open.
“What the hell is going on?” He hummed in frustration.
In the blink of an eye, his mother’s lullaby faded away, and his world turned upside down. He found himself standing in the pouring rain, as the ground began to open up to swallow him in whole.
He opened the prescription bottle and took the last pill, in hopes that it’d make him forget everything that has happened.
Part 13 - Howling Wind From Within by lastar28
The pill, Matthew’s saving grace that slid down his throat as swiftly as he had tossed it into his mouth. It was tough with a taste like stale candy. Stale candy, but with a sweet lingering taste, wrapping his tongue in sickening flavors.
Matthew stopped falling, but howling wind picked up and the rain came down faster. Water soaked his clothes as they stuck to his shivering body like a second layer of skin. Matthew attempted to hide from the storm by covering himself in the white sheets of the bed. He closed his eyes so tight, crying out for the terrible storm to pass, but even in his makeshift safe house, he was unable to escape its terrible chill.
The room dropped to freezing cold temperatures. Soon, the rain turned to fractals of ice that pelted him in the blankets. They cut Matthew’s face and arms, and he realized the bed sheet would not protect him. He pulled it away, sitting up in bed, and still the shards cut him. Crimson patches bloomed on his clothes, bright and mesmerizing like the raging sky.
Matthew desperately struggled to stand, because even though fear held him in its cruel grip, he realized long ago he was quite a stubborn man. A stubborn man willing to face all odds, for it was better to face fears head-on, then hide in bed sheets and wait for the storm to pass. What would life be if all he ever did was hide indoors and under blankets?
So, finding his footing on the tiled floor of the psychiatric ward, Matthew screamed at the top of his lungs, in a ragged yet powerful voice like a mighty warrior rising once more on the battlefield.
Part 14 - The Intake by Finder
“What’s wrong with him, Doctor?”
“We brought you here to ask you the same thing, Mrs. Davidson. What can you tell us about your son...the last few days?”
“There was a storm. A power surge knocked out all communications. I called him. Mathew has always been triggered by storms. I don’t know what to say. He’s never been like other children. We’ve always been close, especially since his father left. He wants to be a man, but he’s still my baby.”
“Any episodes, hallucinations, delusions, acting out?”
“I’ve always loved him. Always tried to protect him. He has times when...I don’t know. I can’t figure out what’s going on inside his head. He started college just this year full of confidence..and now this. There have been times...he came home drunk over break. He didn’t think I noticed. I let him believe that. It’s his father in him that does these things.”
“Has he left before? Run away? Tried to harm himself?
“No. He’s always wandered at night. Always had problems sleeping. Always smashing his alarm clocks. You’ll laugh...but I still have to sing to him sometimes to calm his mind.”
“Storms trigger him?”
“Yes, it was storming the day his father left. The sky turned green. So much lightening and thunder. He run outside searching. I found him out near a lake seven miles away, soaking wet. He was just standing staring up at the sky. He said he lost track of time, but he’s a good boy.”
“He’s a good boy who needs help, Mrs. Davidson. They found him soaked and bloody. He was on a rooftop. He hasn’t been able to tell us anything. We put him on meds. He’s a fighter...had to be restrained.”
“Oh no, my Matty.”
“He’ll be fine. We’re taking good care of him.”
Part 15 - Doctor by WhiteWolfe32
“Dr. Madison! Dr. Madison!” It’s happening again!” Matthew opens his eyes to the sound of someone screaming.
“Where am I?” He looks around at white halls. “What part of the nightmare is this?” A half dozen doctors grab him. “Hey!” He yells, struggling. “What’re you doing! Let me go!”
“Hey, Matthew. Matthew. Calm down. You know me. I’m your doctor.”
“I’ve never seen you in my life! Get away from me!” Matthew breaks free and starts running. “Get away!” He runs into another nurse who pins him down.
“Get the sedative!” Yells Dr. Madison. “He’s delusional!” A man with a large syringe runs up and pins down his arm.
“Calm down, Matthew. You’re okay.”
“Get off me!” Matthew manages to free his arm and swings his fist at the man with the syringe. He gets up and begins frantically running for an exit.
He opens the door and looks at the sky.
The sky is green.
Part 16 - Whispers by Broken_Toe.
The voice seemed distant, yet commanding.
“Matty — it’s time.”
The young man raised his eyes slowly. It’s so bright. Blinded within the void, his sensations were numb. He could not see his arms, yet they were the only thing he could still feel, — crossed on his chest but lifeless.
“I need you to come with me.”
The voice sounded closer.
“Who are you?”
“I am Gabriel. —— Remember —? I’ve been here for you.”
The facial image broke through the haze: the strong masculine features with a faint smile floating amid the void. Mathew could not place any memory.
Am I dead?
“Come with me Matty.”
Mathew heard a ruffle, — a breeze on his cheek but the muffled sound was out of place, — incoherent with the white emptiness of the void. The young man turned away from the apparition, — scanning his surroundings, “It’s so bright.”
“That will pass.”
The voice was reassuring, but anxiety surged within the young man’s chest, — choking forth fear. “I’m not ready.——Mum?” His cry was broken and lost. “Mummy,—— please?”
The facial mirage moved closer as a shape took form to the left of the strange image. A wing?
“It’s time,” a second voice whispered from deeper within the empty.
Matty felt a tug on his arm and then again — slipped into unconsciousness.
Part 17 - Memories by Brandi333
She left the doctor’s office feeling more desperate than when she arrived. Inside her car she melted into the seat and laid her head onto the steering wheel. Mind reeling and holding back tears of frustration. What kind of mother can’t help her own son? She’s tried everything from counseling, medications, pretending like nothing is wrong, and too many institutions. Nothing! Nothing ever seems to work, it’s still happening. 19 years of trying and not getting anywhere is draining her, she needs a break from being Matty’s only hope. She lifted her head and noticed people were starring as they walked passed her to enter the office building. So she started her car and began to drive home, not wanting the attention or questions.
Her drive home was quiet and gave her some time to not think. Radio was on loudly to drown out anything but the music. As her car stopped at the stop sign she saw a little boy running with a kite in his field of a front yard. The memory rushes into her mind like it was yesterday how she found Matty.
She went for a hike at the same place she had always gone and heard crying. As she approached the sound in utter shock to realize it was but a small child. Guessing 3 but he was so small and undernourished it was hard to really gauge his age. His clothes were baggy and his hair and skin were filthy. She grabbed him up and wrapped him into her coat, she began to sing to soothe his crying. She whispered, “Where are your parents sweetheart?” What he said still haunts her to this day.
Part 18 - Angel’s Wings by Finder
“What time is it?” The boy looked up at her, his eyes so very green and so very lost.
Instinctively she glanced at her watch 1:23, before swooping down to lift him to her. Once she touched him, she felt his body mold itself to hers. She held him tight for what seemed like forever. The sleeves of her coat enveloped him like angel’s wings. It felt so right.
She looked around. No one saw. No one to be seen. Like he was dropped here from space. He needed to be fed. Cared for. She needed someone who needed her.
“It’s time we got you home. How does cookies and milk sound to you?” She whispered to him softly. Fearing rejection. Holding her breath until he smiled up at her with eyes that now appeared to be a bright fluorescent blue. Still she couldn’t figure out completely what was going on inside his tiny head. He just needed her love. Everything would be just fine.
Dusk was beginning to fall. She glanced at her watch again 7:37. The sky was darkening and soon the night stars would come out. As they walked home, his tiny hand clasped tightly in hers, he began to hum. She joined him, putting words to his music.
“My sweet little one
I’ll make you my son
your forever mum
We’ll be as one.”
Just before she unlocked the door, her eyes caught his. In the darkness, for an instant, she thought she saw his eyes flash red.
Part 19 - Fire by MidnightInk *
She was perplexed by the fire that beamed from his eyes. She had never seen such a beautiful light flashing from human eyes, even though she wasn’t sure if he was a human or an alien. Maybe he’s an angel? He didn’t frighten her, and she had no regrets that she had brought him home with her. She felt fortunate to have found such a miracle child.
“I’ll take good care of you!” She whispered with a soothing motherly voice.
His eyes glistened. He smiled happily.
How could any parent leave such a child all alone? Whoever had done this did not deserve such a wonder.
When they reached the house, she was still humming the lullaby.
“Let’s go in sweetie, this will be your new home now,” she said, clutching him closer.
While his tiny hand still engulfed in her protective grasp, she turned the doorknob and opened the door. Once they stepped in, she turned the lights on, and she beckoned him to the dining room.
“Sit here,” she said softly, and sat him down on a chair. He sat silently, obeying her request. Then she went to the kitchen to fix him something to eat.
“Sit here,” she said softly and sat him down on a chair. He sat silently, obeying her request. Then she went to the kitchen to fix him something to eat.
She gave him a bath and dressed him tenderly soft, cuddly clothes she had tucked away if she ever became a mother.
Since he‘s had a tough day, she put him to bed, tucking him in the blankets up to his chin, kissed him on the forehead. She then stood staring down at him in wonder.
”Sweet dreams,” she softly muttered.
The night flew by and changed into another morning. The cloudless sky became crystal clear.
Part 20 - Green Flames by TorNesorNerob
Another morning. Mathew looked at the bottles sitting on his bedside table. He was more tired than confused. His body acted without his consent. He reached for a bottle and brought a yellow cylindrical pill to his mouth. He opened another bottle and brought a red capsule to his mouth. He swallowed them dry and the taste of vomit lingered in his mouth for several minutes.
Lightheaded, he considered the possibility that the mystery pills were to be taken with something other than an empty stomach. He sat on the floor. He couldn’t keep his eyes open. Mathew felt himself falling and when he opened his eyes, he was outside standing in the rain and the sky was still an emerald green. He could hardly see, he missed a step and fell into an opening in the concrete where the earth had split in two. He was soaking as the rain poured down and he fell for what felt like an eternity. He felt lightheaded and noticed the water turning into fire.
Slowly, small, blue flames erupted from the edges of raindrops and he felt the temperature rising. He was falling with droplets of fire now orange-red.
He fell on a hard surface. His knees nearly shattered and the pain was too real to be a hallucination, but at least the rain stopped and the fire was gone.
He was in a cave with a pool of water front and center. He could see the underwater city just below. A creature swam up quickly and jumped into the air like a dolphin, but thinner, longer, humoresque, and repulsive. It was like a mermaid from hell. It screeched in the air and Mat felt his ear drums pop.
He brought his hands up to his ears too late and felt a warm liquid seeping through his fingers. Thin streams of blood came from his ears and he felt a jab. He brought his hands before his face to confirm his fear: it was definitely blood.
He felt a jab and closed his eyes only hoping the screeching creature wouldn’t come back. He covered his ears just in case and felt hot again. He looked at his hands. The blood was beginning to burn his skin. A green light emitted from the edges of the stains on his hands and green flames broke out.
Part 21 - A Christmas Memory by lastar28
The emerald flames grew from Mat’s palms, smoke rising up swiftly. The intense tongues burning his flesh, clinging onto his clothes, setting him afire like tinder in a fireplace.
He never felt pain like this before in his life. First the angel Gabriel, now the fires of hell?!
What had he done, angered some divine all-powerful entity? What horrid sin was he being punished for?
Mat saw himself as an ordinary boy, going to school like every other kid. He was in an accounting program in college, for crying out loud! Maybe he cheated on a test back in high school. Maybe he made that girl cry when he said he only saw her as a friend. Maybe he forgot to tell mom about that one time he got drunk at the prom afterparty. Maybe…maybe…there was something else?
He squished his eyes tight, willing memories to come from darkness.
He remembered, a Christmas when he was seven. He had written to Santa Claus, a letter on construction paper with bright red marker. He asked to meet his father, the same wish he always asks for. But, like always, all he got was a firetruck. Mat remembered how angry he became, how he cried so loud out of frustration. Why was everyone else able to have a father but him?! Why didn’t Santa understand him?!
The room had felt extremely hot, as if it were burning. He assumed it was because he was sitting next to the fireplace, but when mom came to see if he was all right, he saw the fear in her eyes, looking at him as if he were a monster. He stopped screaming then, the world spun, outside it started to rain though it was winter. The sky appeared green through the decorated living room window.
Part 22 - Up Above the World So High by dctezcan *
“It is time. He is no longer safe among them. Even the one who has cared for him all these years has abandoned him to others who poison him, ostensibly to help him, making him less than he is. More like them.”
“But will he be any safer here? There is a reason you hid him between the fires of the sky and the fires below the earth’s surface. The threat still screams for our annihilation. Even your child hears it in those drug-induced dreams they force upon him.”
“But he is forgetting our song. He is remembering only the agonies he suffered to become a man-child. The pain of losing his father. Twice.”
“He still looks to you in the night sky. Still hums the melody you used to weave him into existence. Still feels the warmth and love you bestowed upon him when you last embraced. Your bond is strong. More importantly, he lives. If you go to him now, they will know with certainty that he is the one they have sought through time and space. They will know without a doubt that you folded time to insert him in a different place to save him and all that is from the havoc they would wreak with his power.”
“I know that you speak true, but I find myself weeping every time I feel his suffering.”
“I know. And he feels it. He sees it. Your essence seeps into the sky every time, and he sees you although he doesn’t understand why the sky appears so different from what they are accustomed to seeing down there. It scares him. Even his earth mother has noticed more than once a connection between his anger or sorrow and tears, and the color of the sky. And she is afraid.”
Part 23 - Different by anarosewood
He always had headaches, recurring painful migraines. They usually didn’t last very long, but it made him feel sick and exhausted. He missed many days of school before the age of ten. With a pale face, petite frame and weak limbs; Matty stood out from other kids. Though also a child with a positive attitude and a helping nature, he managed to make many friends — approved both by other kids and his teachers alike. And after a while, things started to go smoother. Matt grew up and became stronger; went to college, had girlfriends; broke some hearts on the way. Things seemed normal.
Beverly Davidson stood outside the hospital and took out a cigarette. Her fingers trembled as she lit it up, inhaling deeply. Her lungs filling up with smoke. She held it in for a moment but then started to cough, tears streaming down her face and soaking a green cashmere scarf. These days she hardly ever smoked; the addiction only came back whenever she was stressed or anxious.
Every time that something happened to her baby boy.
They both had to suffer a lot because of his peculiar state, yet she never regretted it. She wouldn’t have changed anything. The day she found him in the woods; small, fragile and cold, her heart filled up with love that she never experienced before. His tiny hands wrapping around her body gave her the warmth that she always wanted and thought that she didn’t possess. Matty was never a normal boy, but he seemed that way to everyone.
She made sure of that.
She protected him and gave him the life that he deserved it. Beverly was ready for anything to keep it that way... she would find a cure for his madness.
Part 24 - Remedialis by Mnezz
Mrs. Davidson walked to the front office. What kind of parent was she going to be to Matt? Being a single parent was no easy task. Would this place give her son all the help that he needs?
She hoped that her son would thrive in a school setting. Maybe this was the best action & step for him at this point in his life. One thing she had come to realize was that he might do better in a place that will help him be more normal.
The secretary greeted the woman standing before her with a welcoming smile. ‘Mm, was this a bad idea?’ Mrs. Davidson thought to herself. There was no turning back now.
Mrs. Davidson took in a deep breath and prepared to fill out all the paperwork for her Matty. While she completed the paperwork, Matt was pulled away from his Mum’s side. The secretary was delighted that the school would soon have a new student added to their grand list of children that need more individual attention.
Matt was with one of the teachers. He was being shown his classroom that was bare. There were no posters on the walls, no charts with cool facts~ or any windows in that classroom. The only thing present was a table in one corner and a filing cabinet beside the doorway.
After the brief tour, Matt pulled his hand away from the teacher’s palm. He stared at her and had a strange feeling that this was a place were he was going to be treated like one of the special beings.
But he was not a mutant. Right? Hmm, his Mum had told him that he was as normal as any other child in his neighborhood. Matt wondered where the rest of the students were placed. He had walked down a long hallway, and had not seen any other child in the entire building. What kind of school was this?
Part 25 - School’s Out by WhiteWolfe32
“Hello, Matthew. Welcome to your first day here!”
Matty didn’t like the way the nice teacher lady said his name. Her voice sounded like sticky sweet syrup. Matty never liked syrup. He ate his pancakes plain, on the few occasions his mother made them for him.
This place, he had decided, was a place for weirdos. And he wasn’t a weirdo... was he? He looked around, hoping to find a window, but there was nothing.
The teacher was rambling on about numbers, but Matty’s only care was getting out of the stifling classroom.
“Matthew, are you listening? What’s eight plus two?” Matty knew what eight plus two was. He’d never been taught, he just... knew. Why had his mom sent him here? It was so unfair.
“Ten,” he says.
“Good!” Exclaims the teacher with a bright smile. “Here you go!” She hands Matty a sticker with GOOD JOB! Printed on it in bold letters. “Now, what does that say?”
“Good job,” Matty says with a frown. The teacher gave him another sticker. Why was the teacher treating him like an idiot?
What he didn’t understand was that, at his age, he shouldn’t have known any of these things.
He was, no denying it, extraordinary.
Part 26 - Quarantine by MidnightInk *
Two muscular men with dark shades and suits walked into Archangel Medical Center where Mathew has seen Dr. Madison. One of them impolitely interrupted nurse Ruth at her workstation. Standing by her desk and ogling at her cleavage he said, “We’d like to speak with Dr. Madison.”
He loudly spoke like he wanted everyone’s attention.
She was so annoyed by his leer and rudeness. But, she wasn’t easily intimidated by him.
Didn’t your mommy teach you manners?
”What is this about,” she asked irritably, frowning at the two strangers, who showed up at her desk and began interrogating her unpleasantly.
She stood up and crossed her arms against her big chest. She queried, “Who are you?”
The two mysterious men did not spend a second. Now, the other one replied firmly in an arrogant tone. “I am Agent Donovan, and this is my partner Agent Reed. We are here for official business, ma’am!” He continued, taking off his glasses, “We are from the Extra-
Terrestrial Activity Control Agency.”
Ruth was so tired and just wanted to go home.
Extra-Terrestrial Activity Control, in this hospital?
She checked the list of active employees for the day, and Dr. Madison was on duty. Ruth felt relief and dialed the phone.
”Hello, Ruth,” answered Dr. Madison.”
“Dr. Madison, there are two gentlemen here to see you.”
After she confirmed, “You may have a seat over there,” Ruth instructed the two men, pointing them to the patient waiting area. “Dr. Madison will be with you shortly.”
Once the men disappeared out of sight, she went outside and lit a cigarette. She inhaled the carbon smoke into her parched lungs and exhaled with pleasure. While staring at the whirling vortex of the grimy smoke swirling on the green sky, Ruth wondered.
Extra-Terrestrial Activity Control?
Part 27 - An Ending by Finder *
After she left the hospital, Beverly did what she always did when the past overwhelmed her. She drove following a country road up to where a hidden gravel lane rose almost imperceptibly in a meadow of swaying cornflowers.
She picked three perfect blossoms before opening the iron gate and walked straight to the black granite stone sparkling like stars in the afternoon sun. She stood above it, looking down for what seemed like forever.
Marcus Paul Davidson
February 28, 1972 - July 9, 2007
Loving Husband and Father
Beverly knelt down and placed the flowers over the engraving, whispering, “Marcus, I miss you so...and Matty misses you.” Tears began to flow. “Marcus, he’s in trouble, hospitalized again. I wish you were here…”
A cool breeze blew her hair carrying with it the smell of sweet but rotting funeral sprays covering surrounding graves. She pressed her cheek to the stone and found it warm from the sun bright in a clear blue sky. Marcus can you hear me?
“I know you were never his father but you were the only dad he’s ever known. I’m sorry.........so very sorry I let you two go out with that terrible storm brewing. I could have stopped you. I should have stopped you. Things would have been so different.”
She had to identify his body. Bloody and mangled. Face beyond recognition. The water risen so high so fast. Guard rails twisted and torn stabbed through the heart of the vehicle dripping wet in the darkness lit only by flashes of lightning and swirling red/blue lights.
“Marcus, I don’t think I can go on…I’ve tried. I’ve tried everything in my power. I should have acknowledged what happened to you so he wouldn’t keep searching and searching. He’s in trouble, Marcus...and.....My love is not enough.”
Part 28 - Guardian Angel by Vee
The cigarette fell from her hand. Ruth turned and looked back through the glass doors. Fuck. Something was wrong. This knowing had hit her stomach hard and sudden and it wasn’t the first time she’d experienced this kind of thing: an undefined knowing first, followed by a rapidly unlocking puzzle.The men, Matty. She hurried back through the doors towards the waiting room knowing it would be empty.
Running over to reception she grabbed the phone.
Come on Dr. Madison pick up.
Logic said that the doctor was in her office answering the men’s questions. A sickening certainty told her Dr. Madison lay on her office floor unconscious.
Dropping the receiver Ruth ran passed the elevators — too crowded, too slow- and into the stairwell. She stopped. Should she get a security guard? And then what, babble some story about aliens and danger? But if she took the security guard to the doctor’s office they’d find her lying there and believe her. She turned towards the stairwell exit. A message blasted into her brain as if screamed over the hospital intercom.
NOOO! MATTY, SAVE MATTY.
She charged up the stairs. The aches and tiredness vanishing with each step, her feet propelling her heavy frame with ease. As she passed each level Ruth seemed to rise through a fog until on the 7th floor she emerged into a glaring clarity. Throwing open the door she ran towards Matty’s ward reaching it just as the men came around the corner.
Ruth positioned her bulk in front of the door crossing her arms over her ample bosom. The men stood before her.
“Ma’am, move aside.”
Ruth stared into their cold eyes.
“I am Archangel Gabriel, a protector of the Holy One. And you won’t be entering here now or ever, you ignorant motherfuckers.”
Part 29 - His Eyes Were Like Fire by dctezcan
Nurse Ruth did not move although she was paralyzed with not a little fear, for the voice that had bellowed and now echoed through the halls of the hospital was not her own. Indeed, she wasn’t certain that it had not been heard across and beyond the world.
In the blink of an eye, “Agents” Donovan and Reed, disappeared.
Nurse Ruth did not waste a moment, turning and entering Mathew’s room to ensure he was unscathed.
Mathew stood in the middle of the room, his face shining like the sun, his eyes burning red. A blazing light hovered about him. From the light came a voice that said:
Long ago before we were, a melody hummed in the great expanse of nothing that was and became the song of existence — and its antithesis. The blinking bits that emerged in colorful bursts of light sang the song as they sped chaotically through the darkness. As the eons multiplied along with the worlds the blinking bits birthed, slowly, irrevocably, darkness began to subsume the light once more. In the farthest reaches of what is, the whispers of the song keep the light aflame...in the very heart of darkness. As long as there is a flicker of light, the song will not be silenced.
They are hunting in the shadows. They know only the song can produce the color of life, bring light to the darkness. All that is, was and shall be is in danger.
He is not a man of woman born
neither god nor man is He
His power, wondrous and infinite
beyond what eye can see
Nurse Ruth fainted.
“Nurse Ruth?” Dr. Madison, kneeling above her, said in a nervous voice. “What happened?”
As she opened her eyes, Nurse Ruth whispered, “Mathew?” Sitting up, she looked towards the bed.
Part 30 - The Underground by TorNesorNerob
He was gone. Mathew had disappeared and there’d been nothing Ruth could do about it. She faded into darkness.
Mathew found himself alone in the underwater city for the first time. The hospital was gone, the nurse was gone, and he stood at the bottom of what felt like the abyss watching creatures swim by. He was shrouded in darkness and his presence didn’t seem to disturb anything or anyone, but he felt the moment he moved, the shroud would leave him and he’d be exposed. He wasn’t wrong.
Decaying mermaids swam by, their shrieks partially muted by the water. Even then, they shook everything around them and young Mat covered his ears. His shroud dissipated. The mermaids sniffed the water, like one would the air when there’s a familiar smell. They followed the smell back to Mat and before he knew it, he was surrounded.
They let out a battle cry and Mat squeezed his head harder to avoid the sound. A green glow emitted from the boy and the mermaids’ screams went from battle cry to agony. His eyes glowed green and he pulled a mass of black tar out of his ears. He held his hands before him, the mermaids still surrounding him but now holding their heads as if their screams were hurting them now and not him, but they couldn’t stop. They looked to be in pain, writhing about as they screeched. The tar in his hands went up in a green flame. His actions automatic, as if he knew what to do and how, as if he’d been through this before, he blew at the flame and the mermaids were engulfed.
He saw a single mermaid at a distance witnessing the scene in horror.
Part 31 - Give Me a Hero, and I Will Write You a Tragedy by Yuki
There’s a wash of grey on the landscape. The sound of thousand dying screams had faded away and in its wake, there are only grey and blood, and raining feathers. She stands in the centre of the battlefield, beautiful and dead. Her eyes are closed her head tipped back facing the white sun that emits no light and the ragging red sky. Her claws are soaked with blood, dripping on the ground with a constant splash that echoes with the beat of her dead heart. She knows she should turn around now, head back but she can’t bear to open her eyes and stare into the ashes of her family- she killed. Even if, they had betrayed them. She felt each soul die out under her hand. And she can’t bear to head home, only to come back and murder more of her kin till she is numb and there is only ashes left her tongue but--
The golden crown is heavy on her head, the sharp edges grazing her head, drawing blood. It reminds of her everything. Why she can’t drop everything, go back to her boy. Oh, her sweet Matty.
Her husband is dead and she is the only left. The only protector of her home. And she can’t leave her people defenseless, to perish. The thought dims the ache in her bones but it doesn’t make it fade away. With reluctance, she opens her eyes and immediately, she winces as she stares into her destruction.
A feather falls on her face and it’s warm. She wretches from her face with force as if she burned and suspiciously, something shimmers in her emerald eyes as she turns and spreads her black wings flies away, almost too fast.
Leaving drops of tears on the battlefield below.
Part 32 - Outside the Window by Vee
The balance was long tipped.
Pulled in by the lure of earthly glory. Capitulating to uncertainty and fear they failed to carry out their divine mission.
Oh Dragon, what have you done? Your burning arrogance has led you to delusion and destruction. Your regret comes too late.
You will be relegated to fantasy. A creature of lore. As will Angel and Mermaid.
Protectors you have failed him. Matityahu, sent to heal the schism, is alone.
Creation cracked the whole and yin and yang were born.
Angel, you vanquished the demons then faltered in human fear. Now you are trapped in human form.
With each heartless earthly thought and deed evil fattened.
Mermaid, you watched as your own kind taunted and tortured. Torn by a misguided allegiance you helped no one. The waters draw you down into legend.
Creatures of Fire, of Air, of Water. There is only one remaining protector. Mineral.
Gaia, I call on you. Find my son. Guide and protect him.
Gaia heard and rose in a storm of sand letting her vision flow across the ravaged earth.
Forgive the earthly beings, for they know not what they do.
Ruth stared at the empty bed trying to pin down what had been so urgent. Every time she neared the answer it slipped out of reach leaving only a wisp of meaning, insubstantial, dissipating with each second. Turning to Dr. Madison she noticed the bandage.
The doctor touched her forehead, her face pale.
“Ruth, I really don’t know. I woke up lying on my office floor and thought of the boy.”
Looking down at her hands, Ruth studied the nails and the lined palms. She shook her head. “The boy? Where is he?”
Outside the window twilight deepened the green sky.
Part 33 - The Window Seat by Mazzmyrrheyes
Home was especially quiet with Mathew away. Beverly often thought she heard his footsteps upon the hardwood planks leading to the lofted room tucked in the crest of the chalet-style rooftop. No other place in the home was filled with more light than the west-facing window seat that overlooked the small watershed lake, especially when Mathew found his place there.
Beverly ascended the steps toward Mathew’s hiding spot of treasured secrets; his journals stored within a tapestry upholstered hope chest. Mathew had spent many hours in the loft as he pondered over his lucid dreams and imaginations; his “poetic impulses,” he called them.
She swept her fingers across the twine that bound the stack of Christmas letters Mathew had written and reached beneath them for one of his leather bound journals. The binding cracked and fractured the silence as she turned the worn and fragile pages. The late afternoon sunlight illumined each of them like the glinted edge of a warrior’s sword. Mathew’s poetry often pierced the heart’s of those who read it. Today would be no different.
Beverly’s fingers graced the inked words as they comforted her heart, alighting the path now before her. It was time. She knew she must reveal the truth to Mathew. “No more secrets, Matty,” she whispered.
She gathered herself and wiped her eyes. Never before had they appeared so clear; washed and emptied of every tear. Sparkling, cloudless crystals looked back from her mirrored reflection in the sunlit glass of the window seat. Her veil of secrecy was finally lifted.
She walked downstairs and placed her hand on the front door knob, recalling Mathew’s eyes of red. Deep in thought, she was startled when the telephone rang.
“Hello?” she said.
“Mrs. Davidson, we’ve encountered a problem with Mathew’s course of treatment.”
Part 34 - The Diagnosis by Finder
“Thank you for coming. Mrs. Davidson, Mathew...I need to talk to both of you.”
“Dr. Madison, is something wrong?”
“I’d like to hear from Mathew. Mathew, can you tell me what you’ve experienced over the years?”
“I’m not sure. I’m just a normal kid...man, I guess. Mum’s been great. I have things that have always made me.....different.”
“I’ve had headaches...blackouts for as long as I can remember even before dad died. Mum tried her best. Sent me to special schools. Made my life as normal as she could. Cookies and milk normal. I began seeing flashes of colored light. And I’d be smothered in this smell....sickening sweet. It all used to come just...just once in a great while, but lately.....”
“Lately they have been coming...too many, too fast. I see bright changing colors blanketing the sky. I hear sounds...music, voices, humming. Frightening hallucinations that I can’t will away...mermaids, dragons, blood dripping, green flames. The smell is chocking me. I can’t get away from it. I’m just a...a man. I’m not some weirdo. I just wanted to be a great accountant. Balancing books for people. Getting them out of debt. Freeing them...”
“Since I’ve been on meds, everything has become so much worse. It is like a storm in my head beyond my control. It’s really disturbing. I just want my Mum to not have to cry all the time. I just want to get on with my work here...it is almost Christmas time...”
“Okay. This is tough but....Mathew, Mrs. Davidson. We got Mathew’s CT scan back. There is a tumor in his brain in his occipital lobe involving vision, speech, short-term memory, music and smell recognition. We think it has been there, slow-growing, for some time. Something triggered it and now it is spreading rapidly.”
Part 35 - Run Mathew Run by BonnieBoo
The doctor had just rendered them both speechless. Looking into each other’s eyes, they communicated denial more than fear as they listened. For an instant, Mathew glanced towards Dr. Madison, breaking from his mother’s eyes and the tragic diagnosis.
Something about the doctor’s jawline, or maybe it was his brow, reminded him of Marcus and he felt safe, like everything was going to be okay. It wasn’t the embodiment of Marcus he remembered, since his recollection of the only human father he knew had been washed away by the other, but his subconscious continued to fight. There were times he remembered he had a father figure, like now, but most of the time, he didn’t, like when he was seven, just after the storm. Even Santa couldn’t bring the memory of Marcus back that Christmas. Gone from his memory were the Sunday breakfasts and hours spent down by the lake fishing, just he and Marcus.
It took him awhile before he would call Marcus his father. Perhaps he was five when his lips formed the pucker uttering the one word Marcus longed to hear.
“DAD, can you help me with my fishing line?”
But their time spent as father and son would be short lived. It had gotten dark earlier than expected, because of the looming storm. A monster, and what came out of that monster storm. Marcus saw and heard all of it. The red eyes first. Then the screams of the only earthly father he had known as he watched in horror while Marcus was dismembered. And then he ran and ran his seven year old legs so far, neither he nor his mother could understand how they found each other that day. Dr. Madison would make sure he didn’t remember any of it. Up until now, he hadn’t given them any reason not to believe him. Why would they doubt him now?
Part 36 - Memories by WhiteWolfe32
Matty did not trust the doctor’s diagnosis. He was scared. What did they want with his brain? His brain was his safe place, even when all the weird stuff happened... if he had a tumor, why hadn’t they said something earlier, before it spread?
What did Dr. Madison want?
Matty was led to a table covered in shining green buttons. He wasn’t sure, but he felt as though whatever was going had nothing to do with brain tumors. But still, he laid down on the bed.
“All right, hold still, Matty,” Dr. Madison says, “this’ll only take a minute....” Matty is covered by a heavy sheet, the kind they use with x-rays.
Something feels wrong....
He starts to hear a whirring sound, like a tornado was in the room with him.
Suddenly, he started hearing a faint voice. It didn’t sound like the doctor. It sounded familiar, and it sounded like whoever it was singing.
“Hear our voices here and always,
Save our son from human treason,
Keep him safe from the eyes of the hunter,
And let him know the truth of who he is.”
The song is broken by Dr. Madison’s screams.
Part 37 - The Darkness Has Not Overcome It by dctezcan
As suddenly as the screams had begun, they ceased. An unnatural, complete and utter silence ensued.
Mathew was suffused with a sense of weightlessness and peace. He felt nothing, yet everything. There was an unconscious realization that he no longer had hands to touch nor feet to walk nor eyes to see, and yet he felt a part of all that is. The fear and panic that had filled him as he sensed something wrong and then heard Dr. Madison’s scream, were gone, replaced by calm, quiet tranquility. Without needing to reflect, to think, he knew that all had changed. No longer himself, he felt more himself. Complete. Whole. The antithesis of the ragged child crying in a field longing for a home that he could not remember.
That he had not been allowed to remember.
Beverly had dried his tears, provided warmth and love, but true peace, home, was always found when he looked into the night sky.
“The time has come. You were no longer safely hidden. The forces of darkness were gaining strength such that they had infiltrated the mind of the good Dr. Madison. Having realized who, what you are, they soon would have burrowed into your human mind and sent tentacles of darkness to smother the light buried within.”
“What of Beverly? What is to become of her? She will be distraught.”
“No. She has no memory of you. In order to eliminate the growing threat of darkness, you never existed for any human presently on earth. Their minds are weak. There could be no trace of your presence lest the darkness find you and extinguish the light.”
“Her life will be so empty now.”
“Perhaps, but she will live another day.”
“Still, the threat has not been eliminated. The darkness grows.”
Part 38 - The Board Room by lastar28
The board room, at the top floor of the hospital, had large glass windows that framed the city skyline. The hospital director, in charge of all the hospital’s matters, sat at the front next to the projector. He was a stern man with a calculating look and dark cold eyes...too dark.
Matty’s picture appeared on the screen, and attendees of the meeting looked at it coldly, void of emotion as if they were dissecting him.The hospital director rose to address the attendees.
“So far, we know through Extra-Terrestrial Activity Control’s investigations that this young man here, Mathew Davidson, is not human. We had reason to believe his presence on earth is dangerous to us. However, direct extermination is too risky as he is too powerful and uncontrollable to handle. Our plan was to manufacture pills that would suppress Mathew’s powers and deliberately place him in a state of hallucination. We had Agents Donovan and Reed go in to finish the task of removing the target in his weakened state, but they failed, and we now need to resort to plan B!”
Many attendees shot Donovan and Reed judging glares.
“I knew we shouldn’t have spent so much time ogling that nurse!” whispered Reed.
“Shut up and listen!” Donovan whispered back, aggressively.
“We have informed Mathew and his mother that Mathew has a brain tumor. We will conduct what appears to be a surgical intervention in a few days time, and while in the operating room, we will finally exterminate Mathew. It will look as if his surgery failed so as not to draw attention from the media.”
Someone raised their hand. “A question for you, Director. Can we trust that Dr. Madison will co-operate with us?”
As if in answer, a nurse barged into the board room, hair disheveled and panting heavily.
“Director! It’s Mathew, he escaped! And Dr. Madison is gone as well!”
Part 39 - A Bed of Feathers by Firstborn60
After staring at the frantic nurse for a second, trying to absorb what she was screaming at them, the members of the group, looked at the two agents for some kind of help with this now quickly advancing dilemma. There was an uncomfortable silence and nothing more.
Feeling a cool breeze fluttering across his face like the tickle of a feather Mathew woke to find himself lying on the soft cool grass by the lake. Disoriented at first, he looked around quickly darting his eyes this way and that without sitting up. The sound of the lapping water and the familiarity of the open area calmed his rising fear. So tired he couldn’t sit up, he recalled the “treatment” he’d been receiving for the tumor Dr. Madison had diagnosed, and how strange he’d felt after it was over.
Apparently, he’d dozed off again, because now the sun was far lower in the sky. Feeling stronger he sat up. Far down the shoreline, Mathew saw a man fishing. The man stood casting his line and reeling it in repeatedly. There was a familiarity to his build and motion of patiently waiting for a bite.
Rising to his feet, he looked around the valley where he’d been lying. He was stunned to see the ground was blanketed in feathers of every color. He hadn’t been laying in the grass but on a bed of feathers.
He walked slowly toward the man. As he got within maybe twenty feet, the fisherman turned to Mathew. He was stunned and thrilled at the same time.
“Hello son,” said Marcus. “Where’ve you been? I waited for you, but you know this is
the best time of day to catch the big ones.”
Mathew fell to his knees in disbelief and terror.
Part 40 - The Prison of the Mind by Alexahorn
“No...” Mathew breathed, “it’s impossible.”
Marcus turned back to the fishing rod and chuckled. “Why? Because you thought I was dead?”
Mathew couldn’t speak. His tongue frozen by the image that had been haunting him for all his life: his father’s body torn asunder. He let out a short breath. This was all wrong again. He staggered to his feet determined to grasp what little rationality remained around him.
“You’re just a hallucination. You’re not real!” He swiveled around and strode as fast as his trembling knees allowed. His head bowed he frowned at the feathers. They were as wrong as everything else around him. Grass, they should have been grass! When the feathers obediently turned into leaves of grass, he nodded in grim satisfaction - it was all the making of his dysfunctional brain.
He heard a chuckle right next to him and stopping short, he stared into the calm eyes of Marcus again.
“You didn’t prove that I’m a brain tumor. You only proved you have power over the shapes in all the spheres.” The man’s features were almost amused. He looked up at the sky. “A gift you got from me.” Mathew followed his gaze, and the delightful blue above turned into a deep emerald. His lips parted in awe, and he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder.
He shook his head, a lump forming in his throat. “But... but you’re dead...”
“I am what your current manifestation can comprehend. You see me through a human mind. I look like Marcus for he was the only father you ever knew.” Marcus gave a gentle squeeze to his shoulder. “But I AM your father.”
Mathew knew he should have felt more lost than ever in his life - but that grasp on his shoulder held him place. He searched his father’s deep gaze hoping fervently to finally find his answer:
“Who am I?”
Part 41 - Come on Son by BonnieBoo
Suddenly, he started hearing a faint voice. It didn’t sound like the doctor. It sounded familiar, and it sounded like whoever it was, was singing listened to the voice of every man, woman and child who had ever existed. He heard the confessions of their sins, and the guilt they harbored. He heard them so clear, and he knew how they felt. His heart hurt with them, his soul cried with them. A tear dripped down his cheek, and he reached up to stroke it before it fell. This time he was not too late. “I hear you, humanity! I understand your pain and heartache! I love you, and I forgive you!” he current plan. The two of them would get as far away as possible and Dr. Madison would do what he needed to do.
But how difficult would it be to carry out his plan, when Mathew in his fragile state with confused eyes looked up at him and uttered the word “Dad?” After all, Dr. Madison was human. The drugs may have been talking, but still Dr. Madison couldn’t help feel a tug at his heart momentarily, after he squeezed Mathew’s shoulder thinking, “God forgive me for what I’m about to do.” Kidnapping was one crime, murder another, and he had a conscience, but, he rationalized, “Am I committing a crime if he’s not human?”
Wiping sweat and possibly a tear from his face, Dr. Madison then said, “Come on son, we don’t have much farther to go. I know you are tired. I’m tired too. We are almost there.” And he held Mathew’s shoulder fatherly, while Mathew continued to cooperate, escorting him further and further away from the lake behind the hospital onto the path that would lead to the road. He was sure Ruth would be waiting for him with his car running as he had instructed. He was so intent on his mission he hadn’t noticed as the sky began to turn green.
Part 42 - Quicksand Territory by anarosewood
The alarm clock goes off, a shrilling sound slipping into her mind. She groans and knocks it out. It falls down on the floor but keeps ringing. Beverly sinks under the covers but quickly gets up. Her head hurts, she needs her pills. She sits up, opens up a half-empty bottle and takes three. Why are those migraines so intense lately? She looks at the container and her eyebrows crunch together. Almost as if the orange pills did not belong to her. A few seconds and she is already up, looking for clothes to pick for work.
She walks out into the hallway to go down and eat breakfast. Funnily enough, she has a hunger for oatmeal cookies and milk... something feels off again. Normally she just takes a cup of strong, black coffee and two toasts. She stops at the stairway and heads up to the attic instead of the kitchen. She walks into the small room, it’s her favorite. The one with the most light. She stares at all the bookshelves that fill the room and her old antique desk. It was her mother’s. She takes a few steps and freezes. Her stare focused on a photo that stands neatly on the top of the desk, next to her laptop and a high stack of papers. Marcus. It has been so many years. The storm took him that day. He shouldn’t have gone to the lake. The sky had such a strange green color. Wait, green?
She stares at the room again, confused... as if she just saw for the first time; as if she was in the wrong place. Where are the pictures that he drew... Her head starts to pound like her brain was about to explode. She quickly runs down to her bedroom and takes another orange pill.
Part 43 - Wake Up Call by HandsOfFire
Mathew stared up at his father, willing him to answer. Who am I?
Marcus looked back at him, eyes shining a bright red, mouth curving into a warm smile.
Did Mathew’s eyes look like that?
Mathew noted that the fishing rod had disappeared from his father’s hand, and the ground… the ground was gone, dissolved into a green void.
Mathew spun in a circle, looking for something to hold onto, but everything was such a bright, sweet-smelling green. He blinked. Where was Marcus?
“Forgive me,” came a distant voice. Mathew swam through the green fog. “Dad,” he said, confused. “Dad!?”
Mathew clawed at the fog, and it thinned.
Louder, he heard again, “Forgive me.”
Eyes snapped open.
Mathew was on his back, his body aching, his eyes burning. Groaning, he pushed himself up, head thumping.
He was moving, he realized. The backseat of a car.
It was a familiar voice, but Mathew couldn’t place it just yet. He looked to the driver’s seat, but his eyes caught on what was outside.
The car was barreling down a dark road, headlights off, but the sky shone emerald, illuminated what was ahead: water.
Mathew thought he heard mermaids calling, but really it was the sound of the car being swallowed by water.
The water surged in the open windows, because the glass was gone. Aquamarine water surrounded Mathew, lifting him.
Dr. Madison let out a bubbly yell from the front seat, but Mathew felt strangely calm.
Part 44 - Spring Back by Finder
“What time is it?” Agent Donovan growled to the group “WHAT TIME IS IT?!!!”
“It’s 3:00,” Reed replied meekly.
Donovan was a bully. One of those puny guys who liked to shove folks around trying to make themselves look better, more capable. Insignificant but evil.
Outside, the pure crystalline sky had suddenly clouded. Taps of sleet began hitting the windowed suite of the upper room. The sleet turned to hail as the skies turned from indigo to black. “WHAT THE F.....!!!” Donovan and the others took cover under the huge marble conference table. The hail began to hit the glass leaving shatters in place like sniper shots frozen in time.
A thunder clap. A bolt of lightning. Electricity cut. They were drowning in darkness.
Another bolt. The internet gone. All stored memories, hard-drives, files erased. Blackness.
“Someone get this fixed,” Donovan yelled as he struggled to his feet. He stood in front by the screen, face red, stupidly barking out orders into the darkness. “Reed, get out from under there and do something about this mess!”
“Yes, Sir.” Reed shouted as he clung to the table leg.
Another thunder clap rocked the building. And another...the roof began to fall in. The ground was swaying under them. Fire began shooting out of the air conditioning vents. Another bolt of lightning lit up the room striking Donovan dead. Another lightning bolt entered. The screen was rent in two.
As quickly as it had begun. The sky began to clear.
Still a murky green, Reed crawled from the table. There was smoke...the smell of burnt hog brains in the air as the fragrance of a fresh spring rain began to flood in. The top floor destroyed, the rest of the hospital intact.
“What time is it?” Reed called out.
A voice answered, “2:57.”
Part 45 - The Elements by lastar28
The water pooled into the submerged car, reaching up to Mathew’s neck. He felt at peace as he closed his eyes. He finally understood who he was, as he listened to the universe’s confessions.
He heard a whisper, crackling like flames.
It is I, Dragon of Fire. I watched you suffer in the city of shadows, but I did not send my light.
Another tune, whimsical like the breeze.
It is I, Angel of Air. I watched you suffer in the brightness of empty dreams, but I did not send my wind.
A third voice sang like tides against an ivory shore.
It is I, Mermaid of Water. I watched you suffer in the cave, but I did not send my waves.
Then, their voices sang together, a hymn of lament.
As Protectors of Elements, we have failed you, Heir after the Creator. Forgive us.
The water had all but covered Mathew’s face, held in the lake’s embrace. The lake, teeming with fish he used to catch with Marcus, bringing sweet memories of the ordinary boy he used to be. Hiding his fears and doubts behind a normal human mask to please humanity.
He wished a quiet goodbye. Goodbye to Beverly and Marcus, the parents who raised him as their own. Goodbye to Santa, who could never really understand. Goodbye to Dr. Madison and the hospital, who tried to suppress him in nightmares. Goodbye…
I forgive you, Protectors.
The words came effortlessly, flowing from his mind for all of creation to hear. As if he had always known how to speak them.
A final voice, ending the song on a slow rolling note, shaking through the earth.
It is I, Gaia of Mineral. Come, dear Mathew, I lend you my soil as strength in your time of need.
And suddenly, the world filled with sand, rocks and soil. Tendrils that carried him out of the car.
Part 46 - Re-Birth by Mnezz
Mathew’s body was lifted out of the car and carefully placed back on dry land. Gaia, came forth to save him and lift him up to higher ground. Mathew felt a rush of energy flow through his body. He felt like a new being. A renewed contract of life, from a point of near death.
As he rose to his feet, Mathew looked around him.The clouds in the sky were shaped like faces and seemed to be smiling at him. Mathew looked at his hands and felt an electric wave coursing right through. He took in a deep breath and lifted his head to see the sky, once more.
Ah, it was a mix of assorted colors now. Mathew stared at the sky, it was definitely not what he was used to seeing before. There were some sections that were violet, some almost like a colorful bubblegum pink and another part of the sky was blue.
He wondered what had happened to the sky for it to change from the green shade to this new colorful sky. Mathew was actually glad the sky was not green, any more. He smiled and stretched his arms.
The ground that Mathew stood upon was mostly covered in green grass. As Mathew took steps forward and away from the lake, the tracks that he left behind, there plants and new flowers shot up from the ground. Mathew turned his head and looked back. That was odd, the points where he had moved on the ground each footprint left had a mini-garden in full bloom.
Mathew grinned. So, this must be one of his special abilities. He laughed and closed his eyes. He heard the rushing water in the lake coursing in a steady flow. This new power was a marvel to have and behold.
Part 47 - The Voice by BonnieBoo
Beverly turns around and looks at herself in the mirror, frightened by her appearance, when she hears the voice say, “Get dressed, get in your car and head down to the lake. Now!”
“Wait, what!?” She says to the empty room, even though she understands it is her mission to follow the command of the voice. “What exactly is in those orange pills?” She thinks, but obediently grabs her sweats and sneakers, unable to stop herself from quickly grabbing her brush off the vanity, running it through her hair before she grabs her keys, fully aware her action is in violation of the urgency to get in her car.
With her eyes closed, she might be able to find the lake, regardless, there seems to be an autopilot driving her, because with each passing second, she feels less in control of the wheel and more presided over by someone or something. The road is littered with debris, mostly wet leaves and branches, so she realizes there was a storm that came through, and this catches her by surprise. Trying to roll back the day in her mind, all she can remember is the debilitating headache, the orange pills, and the call to rush to the lake.
The bewildering autopilot pulls her towards the parking area within closest walking distance to the lakeside, and although it is dark, the moon illuminates just enough light to draw her eye to two forms of what? Unafraid, she walks closer, quickly, pushed along by the voice, when once upon the apparent bodies, she hollers into the night air,
“Help! Somebody help!” And she bends down over the two sodden, human, lifeless figures to check for a pulse. “Dr. Madison, Nurse Ruth. How did this happen, and why am I here?”
Part 48 - Awoken by Vee
“I am home.” The thought became words as Mathew said it out loud.
“I am home.” He laughed. Then louder spoke his excitement and utter contentment. “I AM HOME.”
Overwhelmed by the richness of the moment, Mathew closed his eyes. Gaia blew a soft breeze across his face, she tousled his hair.
“Yes, Mathew you are home. Open your eyes. And know the splendor.”
Matthew obeyed. Leaves danced down a line of oak, shaking and settling. The shifting light how it played on the land, igniting the lush valley, then darkening and brightening with the flowing clouds. Vivid color glowed and dimmed.
Mathew focused on the sky. The thickness of the clouds moving steadily across that pure blue. The depth of it, he wanted to reach into that depth, grab those cottony clouds and rub his face into their softness.
A flock of birds flew into view. Mathew knew the call: wild geese. He watched their pumping wings and long necks, aware he had so much more to see. All the trees, the feathers of the birds, the shades of grass, the garden flowers. He wanted to stare at the sky and at the same time sit to study every detail on the ground. He picked up a stone then a pinecone marveling at their color and shape. Insects, winged and crawling. Hovered and tickled. Flowers buzzed with pollen laden bees.
Gaia’s warm touch cupped his cheek with a ray of sun.
“Mathew, it’s only a short visit.”
Mathew nodded. ”I know.”
“Now go and wake the world.”
Mathew closed his eyes and let his mind join with the pulse of the garden. Sound, smell and sensation steadily merged into one growing, deepening gong and whirr. The soft ground became stony. New scents rode the breeze.
He opened his eyes.
Part 49 - The Mission by Finder
Polaris, once the brightest star in the night sky began to growing dim to the sight of the humans below. Pure energy, as it was in the beginning — never created, never destroyed — was becoming lost. Human skies polluted by their own light. A poisoning of their earth and minds made the light from the star obscure.
Sounds, smells and lights ran together in a rotting swirl, sickeningly sweet to the taste buds. Addictive. Feelings lost to sensations. Annihilation a probability.
Thus...Energy was sent. A last resort to save them from what they had made of their world. The energy became light. Light sent down in blinking bits that emerged in colorful bursts.
The trip was long. Within the light was vision, intelligence and the ability to absorb and understand all that which was around it. Saving that which had become lost.
The light took on sound, humming as it sped through the great expanse of nothingness. As it neared its destination, the light took on form. That of a human boy-child. Not of a woman born.
It was nighttime on earth when the child fell in a meadow near a pathway at the edge of a forest. Folded into time. He scanned the sky above him and spotted the North star. Dim but not lost. He heard the lap of waves, the sound of wild geese still flying free. Cornflowers, daisies and columbine grew in wild abundance. Not nearly as lost as it appeared from the hole in the universe known to these as Polaris.
Nested in the grasses, he slept.
A sound awakened him. A familiar humming. And words. He looked up and Beverly was looking down at him. “Where are your parents, sweetheart?” She reached down and wrapped him in her coat, beginning to sing again.
Part 50 - Spring Back (Again) by dctezcan
2:57? It was 3:00 before that storm hit,” Reed replied, puzzled.
“On what day?” the same voice asked.
“What?” Reed asked, confused. “It’s Friday.”
“Is it, Reed? Are you certain? What month? What year?”
Reed looked around the totally empty, destroyed room. “Who’s there?” he whispered, frozen with fear.
“I am not a who. I simply am. I am the shadow in the night that sends shivers up your spine. The dark thought that hovers in the corners of your mind. I am the absence of beauty, of goodness, of life. I am fear. I am anger. I am the absence of light.” The voice had grown louder with each word until it seemed to echo throughout the building, if not the world.
“Wh-what do you want from me?” Reed asked.
“We have need of several human minds. This buckling of time that you accidentally perceived is a sign that the light was here and is moving from this time, once again. Apparently, it is going back to a moment that is considered safe from annihilation, in an effort to maintain the light. Life. They are mistaken. We have extinguished the light of every star but that which gives life to this world. Your night sky is full of death you cannot yet perceive. Our power grows in the hearts and minds of those who inhabit this world and all its manifestations. Our triumph is inevitable. The light is flickering. Soon it will die.
“We have planted infinitesimal black holes in several minds, including yours. When you once again come in contact with he who carries the light, as you will, as you have many times with no memory of it, though you know him not, the blackness will recognize its antithesis, and darkness will reign once more.”
Part 51 - The Darkness by TorNesorNerob
Reed was called upon by darkness. A dark force inhabited the universe and sought to destroy mankind, for it believed mankind to be a malicious ailment of the universe, a cancer, if you will.
Reed was of an alien-human hybrid species engineered by darkness as a gateway. In order to destroy the humans, the forces of darkness would first have to take the one force keeping them alive despite everything: Mathew.
Mathew was not human, was not darkness or light. Mathew was the designated guardian of the universe whose sole purpose was emit the energy humans needed to stay alive. He was the soul bearer, but a previous battle against darkness had left him stuck in his human state and until he could remember what he was and how to break out of human form, he was stuck. The forces of light (the elements that spoke to him and brought his rebirth) could only help him so much. In the meantime, darkness continued to conspire against him.
Mathew was growing stronger and he would learn how to break out of his human form soon, so darkness grew ever desperate. Despite what Reed was told, it was Mathew who had power over darkness and the moment he realized it, he could bring everything back to balance and darkness would have to stay in its place, but darkness was running amok and not looking to stop anytime soon.
A young Mathew walked home hand-in-hand with his mother yet again and Beverly’s head began to pound. The sky turned green and Beverly shouted in pain as she dropped Mat’s hand. She looked down. The boy’s eyes were glowing emerald and so were his hands. Green flames rose from the boy’s hands and Beverly remembered everything.
Part 52 - Green Fire by chainedinshadow
Images flooded her brain, too fast to decipher, twisting and burning pathways through her skull. She clutched her head, gasping for breath and squeezing her eyes shut against the ethereal glow.
As one memory crystallized, she stumbled back. Matty was curled up in his bed, blankets wrapped tightly around him and ugly green bear clutched in his arms. His smooth, soft face was endearing as ever, unblemished yet by the harshness of life. She smiled, moving to brush a tendril of his hair away from his eyes; as her fingers reached out, a strange light, tinted green, formed a pale halo around his head. Cocking her head, she stated at it. It was a cloudy night absent of moon and stars--so where was it coming from? And why did this same so...familiar?
The glow intensified, and she had to cover her eyes until they adjusted. Squinting against the glare, she gasped and leaped back at the green flames dancing over his blankets and skin.
Beverly sunk to the ground, tears streaming down her face, head pounding, as Matthew stood, covered--yet untouched--by the familiar flames.
Part 53 - The Lake by Famewriter
Young Matthew hung his head at the sight of shock on his mommy’s face. His lower lip quivered, threatening to let loose the flood of emotions that had been kept inside of him for too long.
Beverly didn’t want him to cry. What would happen if he did cry while he was charged with so much energy? Would it be the same as the other times he’d cried as a human child? She shook her head, making the thoughts go away, and got as close to Matty as she could without the green fire burning her delicate, pale skin.
“Matty, baby,” she said in a soothing voice. “Come to Mommy.”
She had to think of a way to put the flames out so she could actually comfort her son. But how?
Maybe if she distracted him. Maybe if she could make him feel loved it would work. Right? She had no clue but she knew one thing. She had to comfort the boy.
All at once, he lunged at her, wrapping his small frail arms around her neck and burying his now wet face into her shoulder. For a second, her body burned making her want to scream but when his tears soaked through her shirt to her skin, the relief spread outwards, killing the burning sensation.
“Oh, my boy, I love you,” she whimpered into his shoulder.
Matthew groaned, sitting up on what seemed to be a park bench. He looked around, rubbing the back of his head, trying to figure out where exactly he was. It took him a second but he finally placed it. Washington Park just five minutes from his home. And just five minutes from the lake.
He sighed and stood up, stretching as he did so. He shuffled his feet on the grass, unsure of what to do.
A bright light shone from inside the woods to his right, drawing his attention ever nearer. He knew where those woods led. To the lake.
Part 54 - If Light Is Not Enough by Finder
Mathew followed the glow to the path that led through the tumbled woods to the lake.
Here, lapping waters refreshed. Wild geese calling in the distance. Here, the smell of pure land, water and sky merged within him.
He sat at the water’s edge, his feet immersed in the cool comfort of the water. The breeze hushed through the pines. A fish jumped in the starlight making Matty smile. Just as Marcus told him. When you see a fish jump at night know I am with you.
Away from the city lights glare, Mathew looked up at the night sky, as he always did, finding the north star and wondering if someone was looking at him as he was looking at its faint gleam. The words of a forgotten lullaby humming in his head.
“Dream of colors rich and deep
A place where time moves slow
Close your eyes and drift to sleep
Wrapped in the lumen glow”
Eyes closed, Mathew’s vision expanded. The light poured from that one vertex in the universe enveloping him with understanding, knowledge and love. Filled, Mathew slept.
In dreams he saw himself as a small child staring upwards asking, “Am I prepared for this mission? Will understanding, knowledge and love be enough? The humans are not how you see them from afar. There is not one reality. Each one lives within their own realities. Globes within this one globe spinning free of each other. None just light or dark. So many colors. Disconnected. What if my light is not enough?”
Matthew groaned, sitting up on what seemed to be a park bench. He looked around, rubbing the back of his head, trying to figure out where exactly he was.
What time was it?...7:47. The sun was setting.
He needed to get back home.
Part 55 - A Clash of Wills by dctezcan
Mathew stood outside his home a moment before he entered. He smiled contentedly, remembering fondly so many moments shared within its walls, first with Beverly and Marcus; then just with Beverly. Such love she had bestowed on the orphan child she found, despite so many phenomena beyond her ability to comprehend. She accepted and loved him unconditionally.
He entered his home and slowly climbed the stairs. As he walked to his room, he saw a green glow below the closed door. He slammed open the door and shuddered at the sight of Beverly embracing what appeared to be a child engulfed in green flames looking over her shoulder at him with eyes as black as night and a malevolent smile.
In his mind he heard, “You are too late this time. In the 19th hour and 37th minute of the 2019th iteration of this game, this battle, this war, the microscopic hole we placed in the mind of “Beverly” recognized the flame within this version of Mathew. Your presence will only hasten darkness’ reign.”
“Never!” Mathew screamed. He leaped across the room. Beverly turned towards his voice, and stared, open-mouthed, shocked and confused, trying to understand what she was seeing. He pulled her out of the fire of young Mathew’s embrace and pushed her behind him while grabbing the younger version of himself. When the force of his energy collided with that of the darkness, when the warped edges of the divergent moments in time converged, there was a burst of multi-colored light and a cacophony of sound that no longer whispered but rather sang loudly the song of existence – and annihilation.
He is not a man of woman born
neither god nor man is He
His power, wondrous and infinite
beyond what eye can see --
Part 56 - Shadow by Vee
Mathew tumbled in a churning, pounding wave of confusion. Struggling with this other him.
“Noo, you aren’t me,” he screamed.
This mirror of inner terror.
“Noo, these aren’t my feelings. Not my thoughts.”
“Yes Mathew, they are your fears!” he heard himself say.
The child clung to him as they fell and rolled and vied for dominance.
“We are one Mathew, why do you fight me?”
“Shut up, shut uuuuupppp.”
Mathew’s flesh split as nails scratched and dug. Pain sucked away his breath as the child kneed him in the stomach. Slapping its face to the side, Mathew pushed its cheek into the wood floorboards, letting his weight trap the small body and head. Rage urged him, harder, flatten him, hurt him, he leaned in.
A muffled voice rose to meet his ears.
“Why does humanity fight its other side Mathew? Your mother knew to embrace me. Our mother.”
“She is NOT your mother, you demon, you devil, leave her alone.”
“I can feel how you enjoy hurting me Mathew. It feels good doesn’t it? Hurting people?”
He whipped his hand off the child’s face. It looked at him, the small, smiling mouth. A sickly sweet of overripe lifted into the air through brown stained teeth.
“Mathew, you do know she’s not your mother either.
Mathew moved forwards and pushed his knee on top of its throat.
“You’re a fake, you’re time is up.”
“I can’t breath Mathew.”
“Good!” He pushed harder.
“You’re hurting me, Mathew.”
A small voice. “So now you’re a killer?”
Mathew stopped pushing down. He looked over at his mother crouching by the wall, then out through the window, he sensed the roots below him and the stars above. “Give me strength.”
“The only way out is through, Mathew. Embrace me. Your shadow!”
Part 57 - Dark Side Your Turn by WhiteWolfe32
“Give in to your dark side!” Mathew knew he shouldn’t. He knew giving in was wrong. But there was the sweet syrupy thick tone in it, the tone of having everything he ever wanted. The thick scent of privilege.
Mathew felt his self control waning like a crescent moon. His light, his elemental strength flew out the window. Maybe this vile creature was right. This woman was not his mother. What did he care, what happened to her? He was a killer. He’d killed Marcus, that day.
He was a killer.
He heaved a deep sigh. Maybe it was for the best if he just gave in to his dark side, maybe it was for the best that he let this woman claiming to be a mother die in the fires of a memory. Maybe he should just let go.
Mathew looked into the eyes of his past self and says:
“You win.” Two words, and thunder crackles like a scream of agony.
The corruption of earth begins.
Part 58 - End Them by HandsOfFire
It didn’t take long.
When Mathew made his decision, The Decision, he absorbed the child Mathew. It was quicker than any human eye could see, but through Mathew’s eyes, it was agonizingly slow. He felt the child’s heartbeat, sickly slow, as it morphed into his own, and their rhythms became synced.
It was awful to watch as the limbs on the child elongated to match Mathew’s own, then the flesh stripped from its bone and was sucked into Mathew’s being. The bones came next, grinding and scraping together until they, too, were absorbed.
In the end, Mathew could feel the darkness inside of him. The realization was terrifying: the darkness was new. He had been wrong; he had not been evil.
Now he was.
New thoughts swirled in his brain, and the desire to crush human life sent a pounding headache through his skull. Clutching his head, Mathew fell to the ground, hearing child Mathew coo at him.
Come on, boy! You know what to do. End them.
Distantly, Mathew felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Matty?” It was Beverly’s voice, warm, soaked in motherly concern.
Trapped inside not only a human body, but his own mind, the Mathew that was supposed to save the world cried out. But he wasn’t strong enough.
He was never strong enough.
With unsettling speed, Mathew’s arm flew out, emanating a beautiful green flame. Beverly didn’t look surprised, just heartbroken, as the flames enveloped her.
Human flesh smelled so sickly sweet when it burned.
Part 59 - The Urge by Famewriter
Remorse spread through Matthew for a split second before it was quenched like a stray flame. Satisfaction built up inside him making him smile. He laughed as he took a step back, the sight in front of him not making him shudder like it should have. The smell of death, the sickening smell, floated through the air but it didn’t bother him. It was as if he’d gotten used to the smell.
But then, just for a second, he had a moment clearness. He realized what he’d done. He’d killed Beverly --the women who had been his mom or years, the one who had always been there for him. He wanted to run to the ashy remains and beg for her to come back but then all the sorrow was gone and all that was left was hate. Hate, bitterness, anger.
Matthew growled and flexed his arms at his side to keep from punching anything. He needed to break something, to feel the pain radiating up his arms as he hit it over and over again until his knuckles bled and his arms quivered.
He needed to kill.
Part 61 - The Song of Darkness by lastar28
Agent Reed’s head started pounding as his exhausted eyes opened. He sat up on the check-up bed, plastic crinkling with each movement. He found himself in a normal doctor’s office, posters depicting human anatomy and disease decorating the white walls.
Before the sigh of relief could escape his lips, the door opened on its own. Reed jumped, afraid a supernatural being was about to reveal itself to him yet again.
The director walked in, cold eyes dark as coal, staring into Reed’s soul.
“What time and day is it?” Reed asked frantically, remembering what he had seen. Had he been in a nightmare?
“That is not important now,” the director stated blankly. “Tell me, did you speak with Darkness?”
Reed was confused, but he managed to stutter. “W-well...I don’t know, I’m not sure what happened...the voice did call itself Darkness, I think.”
“Yes, indeed, the Darkness has chosen you, Agent Reed, as it chooses all the lucky ones.”
“What do you mean by ‘chosen’? What is this ‘darkness’?”
“Ah! The perfect question!” The director’s eyes shone with a maniacal twinkle, but only for an instant. “Darkness is the ideal mentor, teaching us how to navigate in a world of hardships and falsehoods. Through us, Darkness can spread its power and wisdom over the cosmos. We are all its instruments and it trains us to sing, but only a certain few, like you and I, are chosen for the real performance.”
Reed was terrified by the director’s answer, and hastened to change the topic. “What happened to the mission for Matthew Davidson’s extermination?”
“Our plans are on the right track, for Matthew is listening to Darkness’ choir, and is learning to play its notes. He has potential to become the star of the show.”
The director flashed Reed a sinister grin, his charcoal eyes afire with madness. A shiver ran down Reed’s spine, for the director did not seem human at that moment.
“Don’t worry, Agent Reed. Trust in Darkness to guide the song.”
Part 61 - The Beginning by chainedinshadow
The voice was too loud--it raced through his body and echoed in his bones in rhythm with his fist smashing against the wall. Slivers of brick stung his face and arms, but Matthew ignored it.
Listen to me.
He ground his teeth, struggling to see despite the green that clouded his vision; the color that mixed with the pungent odor of Beverly’s death.
We will end them all, but not like this.
Matthew grabbed at his head, blood trickling from his raw and broken hands down his face and neck. The smell was only slightly better than that of her charred flesh.
“How...how will we do it?” He didn’t want to do it, knew it wasn’t right, but he couldn’t stop it.
How does one stop a river or tell a story?
Too numb to answer, Matthew stared at the stray flames that still licked at his fingers.
You go back to the beginning.
A single tear escaped Matthew’s eyes, scalding his skin as traced a path to his chin. As it dropped to the ground, his hand reached to brush it away, a moment too late.
Too late. It was all too late.
He sucked in a lungful of air, a sudden burning eating its way out, the emerald inferno bursting forth. Its arms embraced him, caressed his face and kissed his hair. The walls around him rippled from the heat and vanished, taking with it the odor.
So that’s what we’re going to do.
Although Matthew could swear he’d never been here--wherever here was--its familiarity gnawed at him. He rubbed his eyes with hands void of any damage. When he looked again, he stumbled back.
I thought you’d remember this place, younger Matthew laughed.
And he did.
Part 62.5 - Time is On Our Side by Finder
Mathew squeezed his eyes shut. Energy, light, sound humming down. The sky was green then static, bloody orange pills, radiation, lights flashing, dragons, mermaids, monsters, red eyes glowing, the elements, thunder, lightning, stench, death. He groaned, sitting on what seemed to be a park bench. He looked around, rubbing the back of his head, trying to figure out where exactly he was.
What time was it?...7:47. The sun was setting. He needed to get back home. Home?
Mathew stood outside a house with blue siding. Memories flooding back. He smiled contentedly. “What time is it?”
He entered the house and slowly climbed the stairs. As he walked to his room, he saw a green glow below the closed door. He pushed the door open to see Dr. Madison, Nurse Ruth and his Mum watching a documentary about Atlantis. They all glanced up anxiously as he entered the room. As if they’d been discussing his condition. But they all died? I killed them all...even Marcus?
Beverly smiled, “Matty dear, the good doctor came by personally with some good news.”
“That’s right Mathew, we got your last CT scans back and your tumor is gone. Completely. It was a hell of a fight, but son, you licked it.” Dr. Madison rose and shook Mathew’s hand. “You’ve got a second chance at life, Matty...don’t throw it away.”
Nurse Ruth rose and gave Mathew a hug whispering in his ear, “I told you I was your protector...” Her grip got stronger and her voice lowered growling, “Call me Gabriel, those ignorant motherfuckers thought they could take all of us out! Ha! They may own the darkness but we own the light and time. Time, Mathew.” Never forget.
Mathew stood a moment in the green glow of Atlantis trying to take it all in.
Part 63 - Between the Darkness and the Light by Alexahorn
Mathew stood there gazing into Ruth’s shining hazel eyes confused. The green glow of the TV enveloping both of them in a warm light, and he realized that he was not in his house anymore. He gasped, eyes wide turning his head around. He was standing on a spacious balcony. It was tiled with emerald, the banister was deep green alabaster, and the sky shimmered with an Aurora Borealis, sparkling in a myriad of colors.
He blinked at Ruth gaping. Instead of her short skirt, she had white robes on - and golden wings folded behind her back. She was exquisite. Tearing his gaze from her, he stared dumbly down at himself: he was clad in silver armor, sturdy but light, with a jade sword at his side.
He grimaced skeptically. He was just told he had no tumor yet here he was having another waking dream! At least it was not a nightmare this time... In his mind’s eye a pile of ash appeared, the stench of death churning his stomach. That or the deep urge to kill... He recoiled putting a hand to his forehead, suddenly dizzy.
“It is not a dream,” Ruth soothed, her features hardened. “And it was not.”
Mathew’s brows furrowed, desperation welling up. “It’s high time somebody started speaking English!”
She smiled wistfully and nodded. As they walked lazily around, the city below glimmered in an emerald glow.
“Light and darkness. Two sides opposing yet equal,” Ruth began, her golden curls billowing in the gentle breeze. “In the beginning, there was balance, light never present without darkness.”
“So what happened?” Mathew asked impatient. He decided to keep his disbelief at bay for now, at least he was getting some explanation.
Ruth stopped and looked into his eyes. “One of us decided that their side was right.” She sighed slouching, the feathers of her wings ruffled. “No one remembers who. But ever since, we’re fighting an eternal war.”
Mathew frowned. “So what am I? A simple weapon? Someone you can use to kill each other off in your holy war?!” Driving me nuts in the process!
She stared at him pleading. “You’re much more than that, my Prince. You’re the one who can bring the two sides to balance again. You’re the one destined to bring peace.”
Part 65 - The Prince by Firstborn60
In a state of confusion and disbelief Mathew stared back at Ruth, or Gabriel, wondering what the hell the she was talking about. He’d been learning to embrace the idea that, though he didn’t feel that way, he was pure evil and only here to now end the human race after he’d melded with his younger self.
Looking around he took in the beauty of where they were and the glowing ethereal whites of Ruth. Her curls and robes and wings all varying shades of white that set her off as something different from the green of the balcony and the earth below.
He didn’t want to be a prince and have this new role. He really just wanted to go back home and live the most normal life he could. With his mum gone and no home available to him he stood close to Ruth and struggled to understand what exactly he could do to conquer the evil and save humanity.
He could always feel Gaia. That was a power and strength he could pull from. He felt no fire or flames when he connected to Gaia. He felt peace and support.
“Ruth,” he said, “How am I to do this work?”
“What you see Mathew are the limitless results of your free will, of your misguided and weak decisions, of your wise ones. But as with all beings, only some of these scenarios represent the pre-destined path that each being has chosen. It is up to you to stay true to this path. Guides and guardians have the power to keep you from straying, but you need to help us help you.”
Looking back at Ruth he doubted his strength to take every bit of the evil in the world, but felt the urgency to go and at least try.
With a wisp of her wings Gabriel sent her charge down to earth to do his work.
Part 66 - Orange by HandsOfFire
Mathew’s eyelids felt heavy, and he worked to open them. He was on his back.
“Matty? Mathew, you’ll be ok. No more tumor, isn’t that amazing?” Beverly’s face came into view, then Dr. Madison’s. Mathew jolted upright, but Ruth was nowhere to be seen.
Beverly began again. “I know it’s a lot, honey, but this is great news,” she smiled at him. Always loving. Always present.
“Where’s Ruth?” Mathew asked. His mind felt so fuzzy, so jumbled.
Clean the filth of the world.
Dr. Madison exchanged a look with Beverly. “Who?”
Mathew stood and glanced out the window. Green. It was always green.
“The nurse. Where did she go?” He stalked to the window, running into a side table in the process. The table shook, and a bottle of pills fell off. Orange capsules scattered onto the floor.
Dr. Madison said from behind him, “We don’t have any nurses named Ruth.” The man sounded concerned.
He should be, reasoned Mathew. He was still hallucinating. After all, the sky shouldn’t ever look like... this.
It was swirling. Not just green, like he had thought. Bright green, mixing with neon orange, dissolving into blood red.
We own light and time.
The sky shifted again: orange.
Turning, Mathew realized what the sky wanted to tell him. Beverly was picking up the pills off the floor, her hands shaking. She was about to—
“Mum!” Mathew felt a darkness wash over him. Aggression. Survival. Need.
He knocked the pills back onto the ground and grabbed Beverly’s wrist. “Don’t eat that!”
His voice was angry, but he felt afraid.
Part 67 - Clearness by Famewriter
Beverly looked at Matthew for a split second before wrenching her wrist from his grasp.
“What are you doing?” she asked, rubbing her wrist where he’d grabbed a little too hard. “I need to take those.”
“Mum, no, you can’t,” he started to explain but then stopped, not exactly sure what he was going to say. How could he explain it when he wasn’t quite sure what was going on himself?
Instead of trying to talk sense into her, he kicked at the many pills that littered the floor, scattering them in every direction. He picked up the container that they’d all been in and crushed it in his hands. He tossed the shattered pieces of glass onto the floor and turned to Dr. Madison.
“Is it you? Are you the one doing this to me, my mom, everyone?” he yelled in his face. He got no response, just a blank stare.
Matthew felt like crying. He wanted to collapse onto the floor and curl up in a ball and let everything work itself out. A wave of sudden rage swept through him. He’d had enough.
“Why is it me? Huh? Why don’t I get a say in any of this?” he yelled. Everything he’d kept bottled up behind the mask of bravery and courage was coming out. “WHY ME?”
The words radiated in the still silence. Nothing could be heard but the echo of his anger-filled words.
“Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to be part of this. Nobody asked me before designating me the Bringing of Peace!” Every word he spoke fueled his anger. He needed to punch, to hit, to kill, to feel the blood on his hands. To feel guilty instead of mad and alone. Lost.
“Why me?” he asked, some of his anger quenched. “Why me?”
He looked at Beverly who froze where she was, shocked.
“Honey,” she started.
“NO!” he yelled at her, cutting her off. “Don’t comfort me. Don’t tell me it’s the brain tumor, don’t tell me it’s a nightmare because it’s not going to be all right. It’s not a dream and it’s not my head being wacko, okay?!?”
“Stupid stupid stupid,” he muttered. He rubbed his face before looking around. He made eye contact with Dr. Madison. “If I’m supposed to be the Bringer of Peace then why do I want to kill? Why do I want to beat your face to a bloody pulp?”
Matthew cursed. He needed answers. And then it hit him.
Beverly and Dr. Madison wouldn’t know what he was talking about. He’d gone back in time before half of this stuff had even happened.
Actually, I don’t even know where I am. He thought to himself. But I know what I need to do now.
Dr. Madison dropped onto the couch behind him, sighing. “Matty, are you having a headache?”
He ignored him and continued thinking. “Ruth told me I had the power to wipe out all evil on this world but there is no one person that hasn’t done something wrong in their lives. If I do wipe it all out, I’d be taking all of humanity with it.”
Matthew went to run a hand through his hair but froze. “I already have done it.”
Beverly looked at him, eyes wide and frightened yet somehow understanding. “What do you mean?”
“At the beginning, at the very very beginning,” he couldn’t find a way to explain it.
“The people. Where are the people?” he asked her, turning to Dr. Madison. “Where is everybody? Where are the Jones, the older couple that is always sitting out on their front porch? Where’s Fred, the shopkeeper down the road that gives you a flower every time you walk by, Mum? Where are the taxis? Where is everybody?”
No one said anything but Beverly took a step forward.
“Matty, maybe you should get some rest,” she advised, taking his elbow and attempting to lead him towards his bedroom. He planted his feet and refused to be moved.
“No,” he shook her head, prying her hand from his arm. “I need to stop this. I need to bring them all back. I need to save them.”
Part 68 - Passion by Vee
Warmth enclosed Mathew, feathery, light and complete. The edges of his vision glowing brilliant white.
“Mathew, what you are now experiencing is one of countless possibilities.”
“Ruth? Gabriel?” he asked.
“Yes, I am here with you.” The warmth intensified. “Look to either side and you will understand.”
Turning his head to the right, Mathew saw rows and rows of himself standing as he was enveloped in brightness. He looked to the left. Again his image moved off into endless duplication.
“What is this?” Mathew asked, though he felt the answer hidden in obdurate logic.
“Possibility. The universe, reflected in multiverse. You, here, there and everywhere. But you knew the answer Mathew.”
He nodded. “And can I simply choose another one? Because I definitely don’t like this one.”
“What you see Mathew are the limitless results of your free will, of your misguided and weak decisions, of your wise ones. But as with all beings, only some of these scenarios represent the pre-destined path that each being has chosen. It is up to you to stay true to this path. Guides and guardians have the power to keep you from straying, but you need to help us help you.”
Mathew’s stomach cramped with guilt, “I’ve made a horrible mistake.”
A violet feather drifted past his vision, then another, and more, falling in a rainbow of color, then blacks and greys and earthy browns. They piled up around his feet cushiony and forgiving.
And he understood that forgiveness was immediate if he could forgive himself.
“It’s not easy,” he whispered.
“No, it’s not.” The warming wings closed tighter. Mathew leaned back into a depth of softness and security surpassing anything he’d known. A current of unconditional love moved through his every cell, emanating from every pore.
The wings opened wide, oxygen filled his being. His path blazing before him, he walked towards it.
Part 69 by WhiteWolfe32
Matthew felt his face glow with unearthly light. His strength poured into his pores from the earth, from the sky. This was peace.
Then, deep inside him, came the nasty clawing of his younger self.
He doubled over.
“No-Ruth- don’t let me....” He felt his good side strain for control. He would make it. He had to make it. He had to be strong, for his family.
The human race. The human race, all of it, was his family now.
And he had to save them.
“Ruth, what do we do?” What do I do? He didn’t know the answer. The pain of fighting with himself was overwhelming. His vision blurred until everything was green. The color of poison.
As he struggled, he felt the evil winning. The stronger his evil became, the more the sky flared green.
And oh, the pain!
“Ruth.... Ruth?” He opened his eyes. Everything around him was white. Ruth was nowhere to be seen. After a minute, like a picture coloring itself in, his surroundings turned into the lake. And in the center of the lake, a boat lay. And when Mathew looked in the boat, he already knew what he would see.
Part 70 - The Lumen Lullaby by lastar28
Desperate, Mathew walked into the lake, letting the waters soak his being with freezing cold. The further he went, the darker the world around him got. Eventually, he found himself in dark emptiness, suspended in nothing.
Then, he heard the voices, the cries and shrieks of billions, crying out in the midnight blanket. Off tune, screeching melodies, clashing and fighting with one another to reach his ears. The overwhelming wave of sound engulfed Mathew, drowning him in the violence of the tune.
The dark desires in him began to resonate with the voices, he wanted to join in with the terrible singing, to allow all his hate and pain, out in a belting howl. He felt his young self cackle hysterically as he screamed. “I KILLED MY FAMILY! MY FATHER, MOTHER, I KILLED THEM WITHOUT THOUGHT!”
Yes! Yes! Sing! Sing with the choir! Lose yourself to the darkness of humanity, Mathew! SING the song of darkness! “I WANT TO KILL! I WANT TO SO BAD, THE DESIRE TO KILL FLOWS IN MY BLOOD! I WANT TO-”
But just before he was taken over entirely, he heard the distinct grounded voice. Dear Mathew, remember, the universe has lent you power and strength.
Somehow, amongst the chaos and anarchy, Marcus’ words reached him. They spoke to him and calmed his heart. You have the power, of light, earth and time. Dear Son, carry out the will of the Creator. Listen to humanity. Listen to their collective conscious…
Mathew closed his eyes, cleared his mind. There was no sense of time, but the voices slowed down, and he could finally hear the lyrics. Mathew listened to the voice of every man, woman and child who had ever existed. He heard the confessions of their sins, and the guilt they harbored. He heard them so clear, and he knew how they felt. His heart hurt with them, his soul cried with them. A tear dripped down his cheek, and he reached up to stroke it before it fell. This time he was not too late. “I hear you, humanity! I understand your pain and heartache! I love you, and I forgive you!”
Suddenly, little points of light glowed in the darkness, until it seemed as if the sky had fallen to hold Mathew in its arms. Violet, bubble-gum pink, blue…a rainbow of human souls.
The souls’ of humanity replied. Thank you, Mathew, for seeing the light in our darkness. Thank you for giving us peace and allowing us to embrace our dark side. Thank you for listening to us when no one else did!
Mathew heard his younger self scream and panic, yelling harshly in his ear to stop listening. Darkness wanted him to sing, to cry miserably, to drown in guilt. Darkness wanted him to believe there was no hope for him, that he was evil.
But he smiled instead, raising his head and arms, closing his eyes as the cloak of light covered him. “I hear you, young Mathew. I understand the pain you went through, of always desiring to be normal, of wanting to hurt and kill those who made you feel out of place. Young Mathew, I forgive you. Without your power within us, we would not be human. Before creation, there is destruction. Light is blinding without dark borders to guide it. Thank you, Darkness, we are grateful for your symphony.”
The light clothed Mathew, in bright armor and emerald flame. It swirled around him, feathers floating and landing. He was surrounded by the soft hymn of humanity. A distant lullaby resurrected…
“Dream of colors
Rich and deep
A place where time
“Close your eyes
And drift to sleep
The lumen glow”
Afterword by Finder
The caretaker turned up the gravel lane. Clouds of dust trailing him, coating the dashboard from his rolled-down windows this first hot day of spring. The cornflowers and columbines grown tall around the dusty gate as he parked his pick-up then went back and lowered his tailgate to pull his mower and other tools out.
The breeze of the lake nearby was blowing with the smell of fresh fish jumping in the noon day sun. Wild geese above calling to each other that this was their lake. They were home.
The caretaker took his time, as he always did, mowing carefully around the stones of the townspeople he had known. Wilma and Willard Jones, the older couple, together forever, always sitting out on their front porch. Fred Jenkins, whose stone was always covered with the stems of wilted flowers. That outsider Reed stuck dead by lightening on a cloudless night, a small stone nearly sunken into the soil. Henry who died at the wheel of his taxi hitting the oldest tree in town, white marble glimmering like Christmas snowflakes.
After mowing, the caretaker got down on his knees to tend to the newer graves clipping the foxtail and wild purple daisies growing up and around the main stones with hand shears. The Davidson plot with the newest grave up here. Marcus’ stone overgrown with chickweed. The caretaker shook more grass seed onto the fresh black dirt and raked it in carefully, patting it smooth with the back of his rake.
Mathew Abraham Davidson
February 25, 2000 - April 19, 2019
“his light gone too soon”
A shame really. Such a nice young kid. Strange...kinda weak always. Barely had time to know his own mind. He ran off one stormy night. The body found floating in the lake. Hard to know if it was accidental or just some burden too much for his slim shoulders to bear. Beverly put so much into that kid after Marcus passed. All her hopes and dreams for the world.
After the funeral Beverly disappeared. Her green cashmere scarf found coiled in a nest of wildflowers and feathers near the path at the edge of the forest. Teams of townsfolk searched for weeks but no other trace was ever found. No motive either. It was as if she had been taken up back into the universe whole. Her stone laid next to Mathew’s at the caretaker’s dusty boots.
Beverly Marie Davidson
December 25, 1976 -
A real shame.
His work done for the day, the caretaker piled his mower and tools in his truck bed, glancing back before getting into his dusty old Ford.
Something strange caught his eye. He backed up and stepped out of the cab and walked back to the gate to be sure...the grass he had just raked into the dirt on Mathew’s grave had grown tall blossoming a bright emerald green under a clear midnight sky. Midnight? Where had the time gone?
He looked up at the north star shining down especially bright lighting his path back down to the dusty pick-up where he turned the key and drove down the lane back to the county road into town.
My grandmother died May 8, 1961, the day after Mother's Day. She was 81 and the snow was high, a narrow path shoveled from the road to the house, higher than my 9 year old head as we made our way to the house I had only ever seen in July when the mosquitos were thick and the lilies on the lake below were in full blossom.
My grandfather stricken. They would had been married 50 years. He, a Catholic, she a staunch Lutheran there was a fight about finding a priest and a rosary that my aunt ripped from the peaceful grip of embalmed hands before allowing the lid to be shut. There would be no burial. The ground too hard. A thaw expected perhaps in June, but you never knew in Bemidji.
My grandfather wept for a month. He called to weep even though long-distance costs a fortune. He had a fortune, living on his wits and the land since he was laid off from the Whiting Foundry in Chicago. Mr. Whiting himself sad to lose his best skilled molder. There was no money back in 1932. As grandpa told it he just smiled and said, "Sir, I know you cannot pay me but I will still work, just give me stock, a small bit of ownership in your company."
Whiting became Pullman became General Motors...so you get the picture...yet grandpa hunted, fished, kept bees and a lush garden never needing to spend much more than a dime so became one of the wealthiest men in Beltrami County. When the ground again became yielding and the sun shone bright, grandpa realized the one thing he would need was a wife. Again, using his wits, he wrote charming letters to every widow he knew offering them $25,000 to marry him and sweetening the pot by giving bonus money of $5000 for every child they had to care for them both in their old age.
My dad took the call Halloween Day that year. We had a new grandmother and I had 4 new uncles and an aunt. He sent a photo them taken on that their wedding day, the two of them 75 year old both born in the wondrous year of 1886 in the then grand Austria-Hungarian Empire, arrived just before Thanksgiving that year. Her name was Elizabeth. She had been a widow, working as a cook/housekeeper for rich folks in Chicago since to support herself and her fatherless children.
We met her the last week of June in 1962. She was funny, kind and a wonderful cook so much the opposite of my first grandma. She let us sit in their living room on the coral splashed chairs I got yelled at fo once stepping across the kitchen threshold to see closer. The couple still honeymooning. Hugging, kissing, his hands roaming so much she'd pretend yell, "Adam, not in front of the children."
Elizabeth died on Valentine's Day in 1984. They knew happiness together. They grew old, really old tending their garden, him still bringing in fish and game for her to clean and cook into deliciousness approaching 23 years. My grandfather always practical never paid the $25,000 as he outlived her as it turned out but over 5 years but did pay her children.
Dedicated to @JimLamb on his 75th birthday
His fingers softer then than their deep tan and dirt caked nails. So unexpected that he stroked my neck first avoiding my waiting lips. His palms open full, velveteen easter rabbit ears from baskets long ago spilling with green plastic grass to make us search for each jelly bean nib. His velveteen now grasping all that was me below my sports bra tan lines. Soft finger tips finding my pink strawberry nibs firm. My neck arched up pulled toward the sunlight as the whole of one hand encompasses the whole of my right jaw as if holding within it a live newly hatched baby chick. He presses one earthy finger in my mouth and I suck the blackness away like an orphaned lamb.
It is not life itself
joy love satisfaction
it is only what you make
of what you've been given.
I've been gifted
illness pain poverty hurt rejection
parents the youngest of too many unwanted
never heard I love you so could never say it
want dressed in hand-me-downs from older taller cousins
never fitting in at the laughing lunch tables with empty chairs
a baseball bat injuring my right cortex at recess leaving my insight odd
all these and other childhood wonders mixed with quirky DNA made me
who is strong confident resilient persistent independent skilled and sure
with a nurturing heart and thick protective shell that never quits never forgets
yet takes in strays and empowers them with their own unique individual worth
at an age to marvel at how fast healing occurs once you stop picking open old scabs.
I love that.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
I could not have imagined a more extraordinary life story
now the one I write in bits each day is all authentically mine.
Your Have The Power
It does no good
mulling over bad outcomes
in your mind.
Best case scenario:
you come up with the perfect plot twist
or brilliant bit of dialogue
that would have saved the day
but the day cannot be saved
because it is done and over.
take that brilliance out of your head
and type it on a screen
make it right
have the characters say what's needed
for the ending you hoped for.
Be a writer
write the experience as you wished it to be.
You have the power.
Everything Louder Than Everything Else
I grew up to paradise by the dashboard light learning two out of three ain't bad at a time when I was giving my love to the wolves with the red roses. Those lyrics were my life. That sweating manic impossible energy also mine. I burned through four cassettes of it in my car singing as loud as I could with the windows down racing down gravel roads letting the world eat me dust.
Later in life, I would do anything for love knowing that objects in the rear view mirror appear closer, my wasted youth, because I didn't go into the frying pan to the fire just tip toed around lief's edges without leaping in. Now I know good girls go to heaven but bad girls go everywhere else.
The rhythm of a life, my life, many lives never to be forgotten especially not the words. Such poetry delivery in tsunamis of life-sucking passion that left a man larger than life panting on the floor covered in lace to sink spent into years of illness and depression.
I lived all that too, this time with a CD. Looking for love. The real thing. Asking, pleading. Can you make me some magic with your own two hands, can you build an emerald city with these grains of sand. More importantly...can you give me something I can take home?
I knew for sure you could hose me down with holy water it I got too hot...and too after a while you'd forget everything...a brief interlude, a midsummer's night fling....and you'll see that it's time to move on. I never did that. Never moved on from that music, those lyrics, that delicious frenzy. I never will. I won't do that.
Now, so many years have passed and yet I find myself wandering down the ancient stairway, taking the steps only one at a time, following my just my heart beat now, I'm at the room at the top. The end of the line. I used this music just like a bandage, for my body a wide open wound, I can hear it raising up in my back brain now...
And the Winner is....
Positive Proser Pointers Challenge - "Welcome" by @_abby_
Blanketed By Love
I take comfort
there is something
a hug beyond what can be imagined
blanketed by love.
Those who know me here, know I worked in marketing communication for many decades and indeed was the mind behind the creation of countless slogans. Slogans are ways of getting into people's heads in 3-7 words all they need to know to be sold. Sold the key word here. Selling the art of persuading someone to trade money or somethings else of value like a vote in exchange for a promise.
Slogan, short by necessity, as very short on details but must be very eloquent on voicing to as many individuals as possible fulfillment of their individuals wishes. That's why it is an art:
"Just do it"
"A Diamond is Forever"
"Because You're Worth it"
"When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best"
These are ranked among the very best commercially.
Politically, "Yes, We Can" and "Make America Great Again" are rated the most effective.
Slogans work. Slogans sell. By their nature and structure slogan have no ability to provide, much less detail pathways to their promises solutions.
It is easier to sell that it is to perform. Studies show that people feel best about purchases the day before they receive them. Studies also show that purchases underperform for those consumers in large part because those same buyers never read the fine print, either in commercials, the boxes the products come in or the instruction manuals.
Disappointment comes from many sources and failures. Solutions don't come from the same brain stimulators as do the emotions that lead to choice.
When looking for solutions to those things problematic, we have an obligation to think - not feel - our choices. If we do not, the failure is ours to bear especially when the slogans prove out to be overwhelmingly successful.